Pro Teams Make Push to Legalize Online Sports Betting in Texas

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The exterior of the Texas State Capitol on February 18, 2023 in Austin, Texas. Brandon Bell/Getty Images/AFP.

Even though the future of Texas sports betting doesn’t look very bright yet, supporters of the state’s online sports betting law are still trying to get it passed.

The state’s professional teams wrote to legislative leaders last week to urge dual-chamber approval, which would allow a public vote on online Texas sports betting on November 7 at the polls. Rep. Jeff Leach, the bill’s sponsor, told FOX4-TV that he thought the House would support the measure. 

However, it has a very slim chance of passing the Senate. The 88th Legislative Session ends on May 29, and if neither of the two sports betting proposals passes, the Lone Star State will have to wait until 2025 for another shot.

What the Sports Betting Letter Supports

The Texas Sports Betting Alliance sent the letter on behalf of 11 professional sports franchises to House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. The letter read, in part: “By Texas not having legalized sports betting it disadvantages our fans compared to sports fans in other states that are protected by regulation and given the freedom of opportunity to bet legally.” 

The letter goes on to say, “Ultimately, (the proposed measures) protect Texans from the illegal, foreign sports betting market that is operating unregulated in Texas,” the letter adds. “These bills provide a fair and responsible system of permitting and taxation for operators and the proposed legislation has best practices from other states that will maintain the integrity of Texas professional sports.”

The executives who signed the letter represent the following teams:

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Houston Rockets
  • Texas Rangers
  • Houston Astros
  • Houston Texans
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • San Antonio Spurs
  • Dallas Stars 
  • FC Dallas
  • Austin FC
  • Houston Dynamo

In addition to the letter, the Texas Destination Resort Alliance sent text messages to the people of Texas praising the advantages of resort casinos. The TDRA is supporting HJR 155 and HB 2843, two proposals that would legalize sports betting and open the door for destination casinos in Texas.

The Future of Legalizing Online Sports Betting in Texas is Bleak

Republicans have a 19–12 advantage in the Senate and are in charge.

Despite having the wind at its back and strong backing from influential figures like Texas Governor Greg Abbott and groups like the Sports Betting Alliance, it looks the legislation won’t have enough support from Republicans as a whole to pass. Abbott is a third-term Republican who has called sports betting “just a form of entertainment” and said he would not stand in the way of the measures in either chamber.

But Patrick has often shown an unwillingness to advance legislation that does not have significant Republican support. He said, “I’m not letting the Democrats run the Senate, because if you have more Democrats voting for a bill than Republicans … that means the Democrats are running the show.”

Some think just getting the bill(s) through the House would be a major step towards the legalization of sports betting in Texas, but moral victories don’t make for happy bettors. 

*Bookmakers Review will continue to follow the developments in Texas and report back when the vote is in.