The long-awaited fight for sports betting legalization in Texas has officially begun. Lawmakers and lobbyists presented their case for HB 1942 and HJR 102 to the House Committee on State Affairs. While no vote was made, both those who support and oppose the measures were heard by the committee.
Here were the main talking points and what comes next in the process, as to whether Texas will legalize sports betting or not.
Texas Sports Betting Journey Begins
Those in support of the TX sports betting bills included bill sponsor Rep. Jeff Leach who testified on the financial benefits and dangers of the illegal market. Representatives from the Houston Astros, PGA TOUR, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Cowboys, and the Sports Betting Alliance all spoke in favor of the measure.
The key focus for those in favor was the potential tax revenue the state would see with a regulated sports betting market. When the market is fully mature, roughly four years in, Texas will be seeing an estimated $180 million in tax revenue. This comes from an estimated $2.37 billion in gross gaming revenue annually after four years.
Close to $7 billion is wagered at illegal offshore sportsbooks in Texas every year, according multiple state and sports team representatives. The regulated market would allow for a safe way for Texans to partake in sports betting, something they are already doing. Additionally, several testimonies focused on the hundreds of potential jobs a regulated market would bring to the Lone Star State.
- Jerry Jones endorses sports betting in TX
Also testifying were several organizations that are against the sports betting legislation. The Kickapoo Tribe spoke out against HB 1942 and the joint resolution HJR 102, due to the language of the legislation. The measure did not state that the local tribe would be a part of the sports betting market.
During the hearing, lawmakers stated they were open to amending the legislation to include the tribe. This seems to be something that will be discussed more at a later time.
Also opposed to the measures were anti-gambling organizations such as Texas Values. The risk of increased problem gambling, addictive advertising, and the risk of advertising to underage residents was the main focus of the opposition.
Additionally, there was a focus on the risk the measure poses to bringing Tier III gambling to the Lone Star State. Currently, only Tier II gambling is afforded to local tribes. This measure would change that, which is a concern for those against expanded gambling in Texas.
What Happens Next?
This is the first time legislators have seen the measures presented. There will likely be more committee hearings, some amendments, and more testimonies before a vote takes place. This is the earliest stage of the proceedings.
A local Texas sports betting market is still several stages away from becoming a reality.