Lt. Gov. Says Sports Betting Faces Uphill Battle in Texas Legislature

Lt. Gov. Says Sports Betting Faces Uphill Battle in Texas Legislature
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick doesn’t seem to hold much hope for bills in the state Legislature that seek to legalize casino gambling and Texas sports betting.

While speaking last week on The Mark Davis Show on 660 AM in Dallas-Fort Worth, he said the Texas Senate has shown zero support for any of the legislative proposals.

“Our members have been clear. They’re not in support today,” Patrick said. “We don’t have any votes in the Senate. Couldn’t find one senator who supported it.”

There is at least one, as Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Houston, has sponsored SJR 39, a constitutional amendment that would allow wagering on sports if Texans can approve it on the November ballot.

That mirrors one of the bills in the house written by Rep Jeff Leach, R-Plano, HB 1942, which calls for the regulation of Texas sports betting, and HJR 102, a proposed amendment to the Texas constitution authorizing the legislature to legalize wagering.

Both Texas betting house initiatives were discussed at the House State Affairs Committee on March 22, but no vote was taken on either bill.

Leach’s bill would legalize only Texas mobile betting apps and doesn’t call for any “brick and mortar” structures, he said. It would set online sports betting licenses at $500,000, place a 10% tax rate on winnings, and the revenues would be dedicated to cutting property tax rates across the state.

Patrick Wants Majority Republican Support

Patrick said he wouldn’t consider a bill coming out of the Texas House or Senate unless it had a majority of Republicans supporting it. Leach is a Republican, but Patrick seems to want to see more Republicans in the Senate join the 12 Democrats in supporting Kolkhorst’s SJR 39. There are 19 Republicans in the Senate and there needs to be a two-thirds majority to approve putting it on the ballot.

“Unless I have 15 to 16 Republicans, meaning it’s a Republican-driven bill because we’re a Republican-driven state, led by conservative Republicans, I’m not bringing a bill to the floor,” he said. “I need Republican consensus otherwise, it’s a Democrat bill.”

At the March 22 hearing, Leach said Texas should be able to monetize something that’s already happening every day, albeit with Texans placing illegal bets.

“Texans should be able to choose what’s right for them,” Leach said. He closed his proposal after testimony from 15 people speaking for and against HB 1942 by quoting former President Donald Trump by saying “when it comes to sports betting, whether you have it or you don’t have it, you have it. And he’s right. In Texas, we have mobile sports betting.”

Those who are against the bills seeking to approve gambling cite potential harms on families, those with gambling addictions and being against it on morality issues.

“There will be victims. We just don’t know their names yet,” said Russ Coleman from Texans Against Gambling.

Mark Jones, a politics professor at Rice, told KXAN-TV in Austin that Patrick’s conservative family values cause him to see “the negative consequences of gambling as often outweighing the revenue benefits.”

Right now, those who seek to gamble in Texas are doing so illegally, and there’s evidence many are trying to do so legally.

Scott Ward with the Sports Betting Alliance said geo location firm GeoComply blocked 2.85 million attempts by Texans to bet during the 2022 NFL season, including 84,000 during Super Bowl week. There were also 73,000 attempts in the first week of March Madness with the NCAA Tournament.

If sports betting does become legal in the state, will be your source for Texas sportsbook promos.



Douglas Pils has been a sports journalist for 30 years in Texas, Arkansas and New York having worked for the San Antonio Express-News, the Associated Press, The Dallas Morning News and Newsday. He most recently ran the Student Media Department at Texas A&M for eight years.

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