Texas Sports Betting Bills Pass House Committee

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The United States flag and Texas State flag are displayed at Murchison Rogers Park. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP)

There’s some good news and some bad news regarding the prospects of sports betting in Texas. The good news is that a pair of online sports betting bills made it through the House Committee on State Affairs. The bad news is they’re not expected to make it through the Senate.

Not Looking Good for Texas Sports Betting

House Bill 1942 (HB 1942) and House Joint Resolution 102 (HJR 102) now move to the House Committee on calendars. They seek to legalize Texas online sports betting through a constitutional amendment. 

In addition to the unlikelihood that the Senate will pass either bill is timing, the Texas state legislative session ends on May 29.

The biggest concerns about both pieces of legislation center around three main points:

  • The proposed 10% tax rate.
  • The $500,000 state licensing fee.
  • Pushback from the Kickapoo Tribe.

Two additional bills are also moving along, with little chance of passing. House Joint Resolution 155 (HJR 155) and its enabling legislation, House Bill 2843 (HB 2843) would allow “destination resort” casinos and legalize sports betting in Texas. 

Obstacles Facing Texas Sports Betting Bills

What might be the biggest obstacle in front of HB 1942 and HJR 102 is the need for a constitutional amendment for legalization. This requires a two-thirds majority in both Texas legislative chambers and approval by state voters in the Nov. 7 general election. So, there’s a lot to get through.

What might make HJR 155 and HB 2843 a tough pill to swallow for some lawmakers is that the legislation imposes a 15% tax on gross casino gaming revenue, but does not specify a sports betting tax.

Also, standing in the way is Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. He has long been an opponent of legalizing sports betting. He doesn’t think there is enough traction in the Senate for any sports betting law to pass this legislative session.

There are presently no votes in the Senate for a casino or sports betting bill, according to Patrick. Patrick has stated that unless 15 or 16 Republican Senators support the measure, he will not bring it to the Senate floor for a vote.

There Is Some Support for Online Sports Betting in Texas

Despite all of the hurdles the bills have to get through, there is some support. The Texas Sports Betting Alliance, which includes Texas professional sports teams, sports leagues, race tracks, and sports betting platforms, has endorsed HB 1942 and HJR 102. If approved, the state’s WNBA, MLS, MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL franchises will be candidates for online sports betting licenses.

HJR 155 and HB 2843 would not only create “destination resorts” and casino gaming in major metropolitan areas of Texas, but they would also attempt to revitalize the state’s horse racing and greyhound industry. The bill also proposes allocating a portion of casino gaming profits to horse racing purses in order to support the sport’s growth and sustainability.

But progress is progress, so if the bills can make it to the Senate, there is always the chance lawmakers could change their minds.

Bookmakers Review will continue to monitor the situation as the end of the Texas legislative session approaches.