The Battle for Legalizing Sports Betting and Casinos in Texas
Texas lawmakers and sports teams fight to legalize sports betting and casinos, facing opposition from Governor Abbott and industry hurdles.
Texas is currently one of the states in the US that does not have regulated commercial casinos or legal sports betting. However, there are several bills circulating in the legislature with Governor Greg Abbott in support of these activities.
Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, has also spoken up in support of sports betting in the state. On the other hand, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who carries weight on the issue, has not yet taken a stance.
In addition to sports betting, there are bills proposed that would allow up to four casino resorts. One of these bills is backed by the Las Vegas Sands Corp. and has the support of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who wants to work with the company on a casino adjacent to his team's future arena.
The Texas Sports Betting Alliance, a coalition of professional sports teams and sports betting companies including DraftKings and FanDuel, has formed to support the legalization of sports betting. The group hired former Governor Rick Perry as its spokesman. If approved, each of the 12 professional teams is likely to obtain a license, along with the PGA TOUR and a pair of racetracks.
A University of Houston poll shows that 75% of Texans support the bill proposed by Senator Carol Alvarado, which would not only legalize sports betting but also allow up to four casino resorts. However, Governor Abbott has expressed concern about setting up a system that would lead people without means to gamble away money they need to pay their bills.
Abbott believes sports betting has a better chance of meeting his expectations, but Sands will not support the standalone sports betting bill. Bill Pascrell III, an industry lobbyist, believes that the bill backed by professional teams is the most likely pathway forward. He thinks Sands legislation faces a higher challenge due to the absence of a brick-and-mortar casino industry in Texas.