Path to legalized Texas sports betting becomes more clear
Legalizing Texas sports betting has been discussed for nearly two decades, but yesterday the end goal may have become a bit more clear.
The Texas House State Affairs Committee held a public hearing on State Rep. Dan Huberty’s (R-127) sponsored bills, HB 2070 and HJR 97, which could potentially put the legalization of Texas sports betting into voters’ hands this November.
While no action was taken on the bills by the committee, potential hurdles and allies became more clear for Huberty as he tries to move the bills forward.
A potential path for Texas Sports Betting
The sports betting bill, HB 2070, would legalize sports betting in the Lone Star state and implement a comprehensive online and in-person betting program for state gamblers. The goal for Huberty is to tie the bill to HJR 97, which would see a constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting on a ballot in the November 2021 general election.
To pass, it requires two-thirds majorities in both the House (100 of 150 members) and Senate (21 of 31) and then could not be vetoed by the governor.
Polling has shown Texas voters “overwhelmingly” approve of legalizing sports betting, according to Huberty. Putting the decision in the hands of state voters in November is the correct course of action.
“Texas is about liberty, it’s about freedom. Why would this body stand in the way of giving our members, and our constituents, the opportunity to make this decision?” Huberty asked.
Estimates have shown Texas would likely see a revenue stream of nearly $180 million in its first year of operation, with increasing revenues for the state when operations are at full speed. Huberty noted a 10% fee on sports betting revenue would be instituted and additional license fees would be implemented to participate. Revenues accrued from sports betting would be used to benefit education in the state.
Millions of illegal dollars are bet on sports in Texas with offshore sportsbook each year.
Texas needs to legalize the venture, make it safe for consumers and stop losing out on potential revenues to neighboring states who have already legalized sports betting, he said.
Arizona a Model for Texas
Look no further than Arizona, Huberty said, which just legalized sports betting and daily fantasy competitions this week.
Arizona’s sport betting plan is a perfect model for Texas, as they worked closely with their professional sport franchises and Native American Tribes to come to a deal benefiting everyone in the state.
Arizona passed a bill to allow for in-person and online sports betting, as well as the legalization of daily fantasy sports wagering in the state.
Texas would favor a similar model where retail sportsbooks could be built in professional arenas and stadiums, while sports franchises could team up with online sportsbook providers to offer mobile gaming opportunities to state bettors.
Allies and Opposition for Texas Sports Betting
Representatives from the Houston Rockets, Texas Rangers, Penn National Gaming, FanDuel, BetMGM and DraftKings all unsurprisingly testified in favor of the bills.
“This is a win for Texas, this is a win for our teams and it’s a win for our residents,” said Tadd Brown, CEO of the Houston Rockets.
One potential challenge became clear when a representative from the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas testified in hearing and said the tribe could not support the bill in its current form.
Speaking on behalf of the tribe, Jennifer P. Hughes said amendment language must be included in the bill to allow the tribe to benefit from any potential sports betting in the state.
“We can’t support it right now, but we will if it has the necessary language,” she said.