Texas Sports Betting In Doubt Following Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s Tweets

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05/17/2023
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Highlights

  • Patrick cast doubt over HB1942 and HJR102
  • A group featuring owners and officials from local professional sports teams supports sports betting
  • The legislative session ends on May 29, and the next one is not until 2025

The Texas Lieutenant Governor poured cold water on the idea of Texas legalizing sports betting this year via Twitter Sunday.

“I've said repeatedly there is little to no support for expanding gaming from Senate GOP,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a longstanding opponent to the expansion of legal sports betting, said on Twitter. “I polled members this week. Nothing changed. The senate must focus on issues voters expect us to pass.”

Texas is one of 13 states that have not yet legalized sports betting over five years after a federal court reversed a precedent that restricted it across the nation. There was optimism that this year would be the one marked for change, but evidently, it is not.

Dead in the water

Patrick has been the main roadblock to attempts to pass sports betting-related legislation in recent sessions. He vowed to strike down any attempts that go before the Senate, which he has great control over, and has made good on his promise.

“We don’t waste time on bills without overwhelming GOP support,” Patrick said in his tweet. “HB1942 won’t be referred.” 

HB1942, shorthand for House Bill 1942, was the latest attempt to get legislative approval for sports wagering. It was backed by the Texas Sports Betting Alliance, a coalition of professional sports teams based in Texas, and made it further than similar bills did in previous sessions but appears to have hit its end in the Senate.

The House State Affairs Committee anticipated Patrick’s and the Senate’s opposition to the bill, which is why they created HJR102 as a compromise. However, Patrick tweeted that the joint resolution will meet the same fate as HB1942.

“HJR102 also will not be referred,” Patrick tweeted. “Can’t waste committee/floor time in the last days.”

HB1942 only aimed to legalize online sports betting. Operators would have paid $500,000 for entry into the market and been taxed 15% on all revenue. 

HJR102 wanted to allow teams to act as sports betting providers. Each organization would have been able to apply for a sports betting license and partner with one online sportsbook. 

The Texas legislative session is due to wrap up on May 29, and Patrick’s justification for not referring the proposals in part is the short turnaround time that would be required, along with the lack of support and pressure to deal with more pressing issues.

Pressure to change

The apparent failure to get sports betting in Texas over the line is especially disappointing because the Texas Sports Betting Alliance and other interested lobbyists had an ally close to Patrick: Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham). They have collaborated in the past, which led to the belief that she would help get the legislation over the line.

There is increasing public pressure to legalize sports wagering in Texas. A recent poll conducted by the University of Houston found that over 75 percent of voters supported legal sports betting in some magnitude.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has also been an outspoken supporter of opening sportsbooks in Texas.

“Well, I think it’s really a thing that needs to be addressed at this time,” Jones said in January via the Dallas Morning News. “There’s a huge amount of gaming going on in and around sports at this time. And, so, to have all of the benefits or all of the control over it, it needs to be recognized and parameters put on it and discipline put in it.”

“We should be getting the benefit of it as other states are,” Jones said. “Other states surrounding us are. So, it’s a time for us to, I think, set the rules up and execute on it and get the benefits of it.” 

Texas has a strong following of sports fans and plenty of local attractions to make sports betting a hit if and when it lands in the Lone Star State. But with less than two weeks until the end of the legislative session, it appears as if that won’t be put to the test until at least 2025.

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.