Texas Lt Gov: “Don’t Have Any Votes In Senate” For Sports Betting
Days after Kentucky legalized sports betting, it appears there is little support in the Texas state senate to do the same. SJR 39 is a constitutional amendment that would allow for sportsbooks to launch in the Lone Star State. According to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, the measure may not have the votes to advance in the Senate.
SJR 39 and accompanying bill SB 715 need to advance out of the Texas Senate in order for sports betting to be regulated. This opinion of the Lt Gov. casts doubt on that potential future.
Texas Sports Betting In Trouble
There has been a consorted effort to oppose sports betting in Texas. Many anti-gambling organizations have successfully appealed to the conservative religious groups within the Texas legislation. The risk of problem gambling, underage access, and the potential increase of other crimes in gambling areas was the plea of opponents.
“Our members have been clear: they’re not in support today,” said Patrick on the Mark Davis Show. “We don’t have any votes in the Senate. Couldn’t find one Senator who supported it.”
The Lt Gov. himself is also reportedly on the fence in terms of bringing sports betting and any other form of gambling to Texas.
“The lieutenant governor has serious qualms about the merits and benefits of gambling,” said Mark Jones, a politics professor at Rice University. “That is, I think he sees the negative social consequences of gambling as often outweighing the revenue benefits.”
The measures are sponsored by Sen. Louis Kolkhorst, a Republican Senator and ally of Lt Gov. Patrick. Patrick has made it clear that he would only be in support of legislation backed by a Republican majority. Any sports betting legislation that is presented and backed by mainly Democrats will not be supported by Patrick.
“Unless I have 15 to 16 Republicans, meaning it’s a Republican-driven bill because we’re a Republican-driven state, I’m not bringing a bill to the floor,” he said. “I need Republican consensus otherwise, it’s a Democrat bill.”
How This Affects The House Bill And Other Gambling Efforts
In The House, there is an identical measure sponsored by Rep. Jeff Leach. HJR 102 would accomplish the same goal of regulating sports betting. Since a measure needs to advance out of both chambers, the aim was to push both measures simultaneously.
The potential for the Senate bill to fail could lead to either alteration to the House bill in order to appease concerns, or even sway Representatives to vote against the measure.
Texas sports betting isn’t the only aspect of the legislation either. Texas has no commercial gambling options. Lawmakers are aiming to kickstart this with legislation that would also bring casinos to Texas. Those who are opposed to expanded gambling could end up voting against the sports betting bill as well, viewing them as partners.
The sign that the Senate is against sports betting holds implications for the entire gambling push in Texas. Lawmakers will need to work hard to convince those opposed to the benefits of a regulated market.