Former Longtime Texas Governor Rick Perry Endorses Sports Betting in Texas

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  • Former Governor Rick Perry has joined the Sports Betting Alliance
  • Texas is one of 14 states without a legal sports betting market
  • Texas lawmakers recently introduced a plan for sports betting but will struggle to get past the Senate president

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry is supporting the legalization of sports betting despite having a strong anti-gambling history.

Perry served as Governor from December 2000-January 2015 and has held other high-profile positions, including member of the Texas House of Representatives, Lt. Gov. of Texas, and United States Secretary of Energy. He is no longer in office but has become a voice for proponents of Texas sports betting.

The Lone Star state is one of 14 states without a sports betting market. Current Governor Greg Abbott has not shown outright support but has suggested he would listen to plans for legalization.

Becoming a voice

Perry’s newfound support for sports betting is a surprise to those who kept up with his political career. The longtime servant to Texans voted against gambling expansion in 1986 and expressed anti-gambling sentiments in a letter to Congress in 2014.

Now, Perry believes that Texans are already gambling, and adopting legislation would not create a new market, but rather legalize one that exists.

“I’m not in favor of expansion of gambling,” Perry said in an interview. “This is a regulation of something that’s going on, and it’s not going to go away.”

Part of Perry’s newfound support for the gambling market has seen him join the Sports Betting Alliance, comprised of many online sportsbooks, all of Texas’ major professional sports teams, and spokespeople.

Perry joined the Sports Betting Alliance for what he described as a “fair amount” after being contacted in the summer, a few months before midterm elections. Still, he has remained adamant that he will not become a lobbyist at legislative sessions.

Several states, most notably California, had gambling-related topics up for a vote by the public. In the case of California, Proposition 26 and Proposition 27, both of which would have introduced sports betting to the state for the first time, failed resoundingly, bringing the end of a near-half-billion dollar effort from several major sports betting operators.

Texas was not one of the states that put sports betting on the ballot, but the internal pressure to do so has been building. The Houston Astros, for example, made a statement earlier this year by partnering with sportsbook BetMGM despite the absence of a betting market.

Distinctions and concerns

One of Perry’s greatest concerns for a legal market is the influence it could have on children. He previously expressed concern for youths in his 2014 letter to D.C. which was underlined by his abject opposition to online gambling.

“Allowing Internet gaming to invade the homes of every American family, and be piped into our dens, our living rooms, our workplaces and even our kids’ bedrooms and dorm rooms, is a major decision,” Perry said in his letter. “We must carefully examine the short- and long-term social and economic consequences before Internet gambling spreads.” 

Unfortunately for lawmakers grappling with the same concerns, gambling is prevalent among those underage and in states where sports betting is illegal. The viral nature of big-ticket hits on Twitter, TikTok, and other popular social media platforms has made sports betting feel like it's just a click away, while sports commentators and analysts frequently review and analyze betting lines on live television.

Last month, a plan for legal sports betting and casinos called Senate Joint Resolution 17 was introduced to state legislators by Sen. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston). It would create the Texas Gaming Commission and introduce four casino-resorts in major cities such as Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.

Lt. Gov. and Senate president Dan Patrick, however, has vowed to strike down any gambling-related measures. Patrick also omitted sports betting while laying out his plans for the upcoming legislative session in a presser two weeks ago.

Two-thirds of Texas House and Senate members would need to approve any measure before putting it before a public vote, which could not happen until November 2023 at the earliest.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.