They say that everything is bigger in Texas, and evidently, that includes the battle over whether or not the state will be moving to legalize sports betting.
There are now 25 U.S. states that have moved to legalize betting on sports since the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 struck down a decades-old law prohibiting sports wagering anywhere other than Nevada. At VegasBetting.com, a complete rundown of where each of the 50 states currently stands in regards to sports betting can be easily accessed.
While many states are now allowing legal sports wagering, some of the largest states in the USA – Texas, California, and Florida – are dragging their heels on making this move. New York only recently began the process of legalizing online sports wagering.
“Dallas Cowboys” by Smiley N. Pool is licensed under CC BY 3.0
Texas Sports Teams Speaking Up
The owners of three of the biggest professional sports franchises in Texas took to the media to make a case for the legalization of sports betting in the state.
The ownership groups of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, and MLB’s Texas Rangers have all thrown their support behind the Sports Betting Alliance. This group is a coalition of franchises and betting platforms, and they are the driving force making the push for the legalization of sports betting in Texas.
“Unregulated and illegal sports gambling is already taking place in the State of Texas,” Cowboys Executive Vice President Charlotte Jones told the Dallas Morning News. “Legalized sports betting would regulate the industry and generate hundreds of millions of dollars of new revenue for the state, which will help fund critical programs without raising taxes.”
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban went one step further, calling for both the legalization of sports betting and casino gambling in the Lone Star State.
“I think it’s time,” Cuban said. “It makes no sense for us to force Texans to go to neighboring states to gamble in casinos.”
Patrick Throws Down Gauntlet
One day after the state’s big sports teams were stating their case for the legalization of sports betting, Republican Texas Lieutenant-Governor Dan Patrick went out of his way to throw cold water on the suggestion.
Patrick strongly noted that any bill proposing to legalize any form of gambling in the state wouldn’t stand a chance of being passed into law.
“I’m not a big supporter of it,” Patrick told the Chad Hasty radio show. “There’s so much infighting and competition among all the people in that arena, that’s why it never goes anywhere. And so it’s not even an issue that’s going to see the light of day this session.”
Republicans currently hold an 18-13 advantage in the Texas State Senate. It would require 21 votes from the Senate to pass a law legalizing sports betting.
“We are nowhere close to having the votes for it,” Patrick said. “We don’t even have a bill that has been filed in the Senate on the issue. When you don’t even have a sponsor, it’s not even a bill you spend much time on or think about.
“I don’t spend much time on it because the members are just against it.”
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A Bill Is Coming
Not every Texas Republican appears to be opposed to the legalization of sports betting. GOP State Rep. Dan Huberty is the author of a bill that would legalize sports betting in Texas if passed into law. He would like to see revenue accumulated from sports betting go to a fund for special education in Texas.
“It could generate several hundred million dollars,” Huberty said
A spokesperson for the Sports Betting Alliance said that the legislation would be filed within the coming weeks.
“We’re seeing strong support from legislators we are talking with on this issue,” Cara Gustafson of the SBA said in a statement. “Texans overwhelmingly want the opportunity to vote on sports betting, and we will continue to encourage the Legislature to give them the opportunity to decide.”
Since gambling is currently banned in the state, Texas would be required to make two moves in order to bring about legalization. Firstly, an amendment to the state constitution to allow gambling would need to be passed. Secondly, another bill would be necessary to outline in fine detail how gambling in the state would be licensed and regulated.