Texas Senator Pushing for Gambling and Sports Betting Legalization

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01/05/2023
News

Highlights

  • Carol Alvarado is renewing her efforts to legalize gambling in Texas
  • If approved, the plan would create casinos in four major local cities
  • The current and former Texas Governor are open to legalizing gambling

Three days into 2023 and there is already a push from Texas legislators to bring casinos and retail-based sports betting inside state lines.

Democratic Senator Carol Alvarado has created a proposal, known as Senate Joint Resolution 17, which calls for citizens to vote on the future of both casinos and brick-and-mortar sports betting facilities. She has introduced similar plans off and on since 2009 and is renewing her commitment on the back of recent expansions in the gambling community.

Texas policymakers have a history of strong opposition to the ideas Alvardo is propagating. However, the gambling industry is gaining momentum with every passing day, giving more legitimacy than ever to her ambition.

Details of the plan

The Texas legislative session officially opens on January 10 and will run until May 29. A number of topics will be discussed, including Alvarado’s plan, first introduced in November 2022, and the state’s future in the gambling ecosystem.

Alvarado believes that it is time for Texas to pounce on the opportunity being presented to it. The state’s major cities are busier than ever, and the widespread prevalence of sports betting combined with the local sporting attractions would turn Texas into a priority gambling market practically overnight.

The proposal aims “to foster economic development and job growth and to provide tax relief and funding for education and public safety by creating the Texas Gaming Commission, authorizing and regulating casino gaming at a limited number of destination resorts and facilities licensed by the commission, authorizing sports wagering, requiring occupational licenses to conduct casino gaming, and requiring the imposition of a tax."

If approved, state voters would determine the fate of gambling in the Longhorn State. California was presented with a similar situation during the November ballot, only for Propositions 26 and 27, which would have brought sports betting to the locals, to fail resoundingly.

If Texans swung the other way, casinos would be erected in Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. Hotels and conference centers, among other amenities, would be attached to the new properties. 

Alvarado believes that her plan, if approved, would be a major stimulus for the local economy, not just in raw gaming revenue, but by creating thousands of new jobs. 

“In construction, indirect jobs, and indirect jobs in hospitality, entrepreneurs—Houston is a place where people come for economic opportunity,” said Alvardo. “Having restaurants and shops open up would be a boost to our economy locally.”

Understanding the climate

Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently revealed that he would consider the idea of legal gambling. Former Governor Rick Perry also walked back his previous opposing comments and joined the Sports Betting Alliance in a new commitment to endorsing legal sports betting.

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

Contrary to the opinions expressed by the current and former Governor, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has sworn to nix any pro-gambling plans presented in the Senate.

“Texans love to gamble,” Alvarado said. “I guarantee, you go to Louisiana, to any casino, and the majority of license plates are going to be from Texas.”

One such bettor traveling to Louisiana is Houston native and owner of the largest win in sports betting history Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, who recently dropped a $1m bet with Caesars sportsbook during the grand opening of the Horseshoe Lake Charles Casino.

There is also internal pressure from in-state organizations to advance the resolution. The reigning World Series champion Houston Astros have a deal in place with gambling operator BetMGM, even though interested players cannot gamble on any games inside the state’s border. 

Alvarado will need 2/3 support from the state legislature to advance the issue to the ballot for a public vote. She believes that the upcoming session is a golden opportunity as she has a Republican sponsor that could be key in landing bipartisan support.

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.