There is growing discussion in the possibility of the legalization of online sports betting this year in the state of Texas, and the professional sports teams could play a vital role in its actualization.
There are talks by multiple sources that the Governor’s office of the Lone Star State has been in communication with regulators and lobbyists in some states, including New Jersey, receiving advice on the best possible way to go about the legalization of sports betting in Texas.
Bill Pascrell III, a lobbyist with Princeton Public Affairs Group was quoted saying, “something is going to happen in Texas”. He stated that although there is nothing definitive yet, the absence of gaming culture is making it all quite complicated, but both the Governor of Texas and the legislature are interested in bringing this to fruition.
The legalization of sports betting in Texas is being backed by professional team owners such as Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks), Tilman Fertitta (Houston Rockets), and Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys).
How would the legalization of sports betting in Texas work?
The legalization of sports betting in the state could see the availability of 14 to 20 licenses for professional sports teams in the state, alongside a few for Texas horse racing tracks. The teams would be burdened with the tasks of selling access to bookmaking partners, unlike New Jersey, where these licenses are given to casinos.
The draft bill currently being developed will be needing a sponsor in order for it to make its way to the legislative floor. That could be the case in a few weeks as the Texas legislative session begins.
Given its conservative roots, the state of Texas was seen as one of the most unlikely states keen on legalizing sports betting. In Texas, changes made to the state’s gambling laws will also require a constitutional amendment.
Meanwhile, like various other states, Texas is faced with a budget deficit, which was caused by the covid-19 pandemic. Strong support from top figures, including Mark Cuban, Jerry Jones, and Tilman Fertitta, could help make the decision a lot easier as they all have some ties in sports gambling.
Jones has a stake in the sportsbook, DraftKings, Fertitta owns the Golden Nuggets Online Gaming, and Cuban has an investment with Unikrn, an eSports betting platform.
While the calls are for online sports betting in the state of Texas, it might expand into the creation of betting kiosks in stadiums.
Oppositions Lie Ahead
The legalization of sports betting in Texas will create an immense span of opportunities. The Lone Star State is the 13th richest state in the US, as regards GDP per capita and the second-largest state in the US by population.
Illinois is currently the fourth largest US betting market, although it was only legalized last year. And Texas is as wealthy as Illinois and even more than twice it’s size, as such, it goes without saying the enormous opportunity that lies in Texas.
However, there lie some potential oppositions to the actualization of this. Some of these oppositions are the colleges and Oklahoma tribes, who already attract gamblers from their neighbor.
The possible legalization of casino gambling in Texas has further created some complications. In 2020, the late Sheldon Adelson had spent $4.5 million to support the Republicans in maintaining control over the Texas House before his passing.
Las Vegas Sands, his establishment is allegedly looking to acquire resort casinos in Texas and might possibly also take a bite off sports betting.
As the lobbyist, Pascrell made clear, there exist some complications before the actualization of sports betting in Texas. But the fact that this is being discussed shows that there is light at the end of the tunnel.