In Texas, even small legislative wins regarding gambling legislation are met with huge enthusiasm by the casino and sports betting interests.
That’s because the financial stakes are so high in the second-largest state in America and also because, by most rational measures, Texas is the only state of the so-called Big Three with even a slight chance of adopting retail, and more importantly online, sports gambling.
The other two large states without any type of sports betting, California and Florida, seem hopelessly entangled in a Gordian Knot of conflicts among stakeholders leaving Texas — problematic as it has been for sports gambling proponents — as the best bet, albeit still a longshot.
Earlier this week, two separate Texas sports betting bills — HB 1942 and HB 2843 — passed through the House State Affairs committee. Both had 9-3 votes. This was viewed as a big deal because gambling bills generally have been dead-on-arrival in previous Texas legislative sessions.
Gaming Industry Applauds Texas’ Progress
Some in the gaming industry and its cheerleaders met the news of the bills’ progress with enthusiasm.
“The efforts to bring destination resorts to Texas made significant progress with today’s vote,” Matt Hirsch, with the Texas Destination Resort Alliance, was quoted as saying in published reports. Hirsch is a spokesman for the lobbying group which is backed by casino company Las Vegas Sands.
“Texans have made it clear that they want destination resorts in Texas, and we are now one step closer to ultimately allowing them to decide on this issue.”
One of the bills addresses sports gambling (HB 1942) and the other addresses land-based resort casinos and sports gambling (HB 2843).
The bills are now on their way to the House Calendar committee. Committee members there will decide whether the bills will come up for a vote on the floor of the House.
That said, the road for the legalization of Texas mobile betting apps and more broadly, casino gambling, has a steep and rocky path ahead of it.
The ground rules are daunting.
For starters, legalizing gambling in Texas requires amending the state constitution.
To even get a gambling question on a ballot, either bill needs a two-thirds majority in both chambers of the legislature. Then, the measure would go to the voters.
And if it doesn’t happen in a given year, the whole effort has a two-year wait because the Texas legislature convenes only every other year. So, if either or both bills fail the legislative hurdles in 2023, gambling efforts have to wait until 2025.
And, oh yeah, the Texas legislature is scheduled call it quits for 2023 on May 29, a date with the classic title of “sine die,” or without a future date designated.
Sports Betting Still Faces Long Road in Texas
The head winds in Texas remain in the state Senate where Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has control. Patrick has been mostly anti-gambling with only some moderation in his stance of late.
However, recently on radio, Patrick had two words for gambling’s chances in the Texas state Senate: “Zero support”.
Elaborating, Patrick said, “Our members have been clear: they’re not in support today. We don’t have any votes in the Senate.”
There’s more from Patrick, but you get the idea.
The high-profile lobbying in Texas for casinos has come from Las Vegas Sands, which used to own and operate the Venetian and the Palazzo casino resorts in Las Vegas. While LVS is out of Vegas these days, it apparently would love to be in Texas.
Sports gambling not only has support from the gaming industry but of the state’s pro sports teams and it has a lobbying point man in former governor Rick Perry.
While that seems like a lot of support, the opposition in Texas has been resolute. And the clock is ticking.
If sports betting does become legal in the state, BetTexas.com will be your source for Texas sportsbook promos.