Sen. Alvarado: Gaming Bill Will Legalize Texas Retail Sports Betting
Texas sports betting fans may be disappointed to hear that a pre-filed bill to legalize both sports betting and casino gaming in the Lone Star State will not include online sports betting.
Sen. Carol Alvarado (D-6) recently pre-filed a bill (TX SJR17) to amend the Texas constitution to legalize gambling at a limited number of destination resorts and facilities licensed by a Texas Gaming Commission and sports betting in the state.
But, as she told Saturday Down South, the bill will not seek to legalize online sports betting, only retail sports betting at future state casinos.
“Sports betting is an amenity. Not the goal of this legislation,” Alvarado told Saturday Down South.
The Texas legislative session will commence on Jan. 10, 2023, and conclude on May 29, 2023.
Bill’s goal is casino gambling
If approved, table gaming, slots, and retail sports betting will be legal in the state. Alvarado’s bill sets a 10% tax rate on gross gaming revenue for table games and a 25% tax rate on gross gaming revenue for slot machines.
A sports betting tax rate was not set in the document.
Casino gambling is very much the main premise of this bill. Alvarado has attempted to legalize casino gaming through this strategy a number of times since 2009.
“It’s long past time that we let voters decide whether Texas should legalize gaming. Texas loses billions of dollars every year to our neighboring states. Legalizing casino gaming would not only bring this revenue back into our state, but it will also create tens of thousands of permanent jobs in Texas and potentially hundreds of thousands of immediate construction jobs,” she said.
The total estimated economic impacts from development and construction of resorts and casinos in the state is between $16 billion to $17 billion (gross domestic product), she noted.
“The potential tax revenues are significant, but the overall economic impact is what truly matters.”
Texas sports betting future
If the bill is approved by more than 66% of Texas lawmakers, it will head to the ballot in November 2023 for approval by state voters. If approved by voters, it would likely mean Texas retail sports betting would launch sometime in 2024 if signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott (R).
Despite not including online sports betting, Alvarado’s bill can still be considered as an encouraging sign for voters interested in legalized sports betting in Texas and will likely not be the only piece of legislation legalizing sports betting to be introduced in the upcoming session.
It’s not the first potential constitutional amendment attempting to legalize Texas sports betting. In 2021, State Rep. Dan Huberty (R-127) sponsored two bills, HB 2070 and HJR 97, which would have legalized sports betting and implemented a comprehensive online and in-person betting program for state gamblers.
Huberty’s bills implemented a 10% tax on sports betting. Fiscal estimates showed Texas would have likely seen a revenue stream of nearly $180 million during its first year of operation, with increasing revenues for the state when operations were at full speed. Sports betting tax revenues would have benefited Texas education.
Both bills stalled and did not receive a vote in either the Texas House or Senate before the end of the state’s 2021 legislative session.