Texas Sports Betting Bill Anticipates Senate Rejection

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

The Texas House of Representatives approved legislation to legalize betting on specific sports betting events via a constitutional amendment. 

Come November, Texans may vote to approve online sports betting statewide. The original 10% tax rate on sports wagering in Texas will increase to 15% as a result of the Wednesday night amendment.

Additionally, the amendment permits operators to exclude promotional wagers from gross gaming revenue for the first year following license issuance only. However, the measure might never make it that far and Lone Star State residents do not enjoy Texas sports betting soon.

Bill Faces Uphill Battle

House Joint Resolution 102 and House Bill 1942 are supported by an alliance of Texas professional sports teams and approved by state representatives in Austin.

Since HJR 102 would modify the state constitution, it needed a two-thirds majority of 100 votes, which it received with 101 of 143 votes during Thursday’s third reading. Its corresponding bill, HB 1942, was approved with 82-51 votes on its third reading. 

Governor’s Say

The legislation, also known as Senate Joint Resolution 39, must now pass the Senate with a two-thirds majority, according to the Texas Constitution. But, according to Rice University political science professor Mark Jones, the likelihood of it passing the Senate, which is overseen by President Dan Patrick, is slim.

“Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick indicated months ago that he was opposed to this legislation and didn’t see it as having any prospects in the Senate,” Jones told ABC13. “He has said nothing about changing his mind, and the votes in the House, where Republicans are split, would solidify Patrick’s decision to stick to his guns and block this legislation.

“He has said from the beginning that he’s only going to pass it if it has overwhelming Republican support, so when this bill goes to the Senate, it’s dead on arrival.”

Representatives Against It

The most outspoken critic (of legalizing sports betting in Texas) is Rep. Matt Shaheen. He has opposed the latest gambling expansion bill from the start. He cautioned that legalizing casinos in Texas would cause a sharp increase in sex-trafficking and domestic violence cases. 

Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, who leads the House Democratic Caucus, also opposed both proposals, citing the rushed nature of the process.

Discussion Is Far From Over

Nevertheless, some consider the bill making it this far as progress.

The House votes were the greatest advancement made by proponents of gaming since they descended on Austin two years ago and launched an aggressive lobbying campaign. Millions of dollars have been spent on lobbyists, TV commercials, and political campaign contributions by the gambling behemoth Las Vegas Sands.

The Senate did not even hold hearings on the measures to increase gambling; they were only taken up by a House committee in 2021. So, it remains to be seen where this latest journey will end. Bookmakers Review will continue to follow the developments.