A coalition of professional sports teams and bookmakers plans to take another run at bringing sports betting to Texas during the state's upcoming legislative session.
The Texas Sports Betting Alliance, which is made up of operators such as DraftKings and teams such as the Dallas Cowboys, says it is dead set on legalizing online sports betting sites in the state when lawmakers return to Austin in early January.
That legislation would be in addition to an already pre-filed bill that proposes to amend the state constitution to provide for legal sports betting, among other things.
“The Texas Sports Betting Alliance is fully focused on legalizing mobile sports betting in Texas during the upcoming legislative session beginning Jan. 10, 2023,” spokesperson Cara Gustafson said in an email to Covers. “We have not announced our author(s) or our final bill yet, but the bill will be similar to the one we filed in 2021, HB 2070 by former Rep. Dan Huberty.”
Lone Star ambitions
Previous efforts to provide legal sports betting to Texans have indeed come up short. The unique nature of the state legislature also provides only so much time for lawmakers to get anything done, as the House of Representatives and Senate have their regularly scheduled sittings in odd-numbered years.
Even so, online sportsbook operators have been striking partnerships in the state to get their brands recognized in the event of any sports-betting launch. BetMGM, for example, announced in May that it was the exclusive sports-betting partner of the Houston Astros.
The interest in Texas is because it is one of the crown jewels of U.S. state markets for operators, as it has the second-largest population, behind California and ahead of Florida, two states which also lack legal sports betting. If the state ever were to permit event wagering, it would likely be a high priority for many operators, depending on what betting channels are approved.
A gubernatorial gift?
There may be changing attitudes in the Texas state capitol as well, and in the governor’s office, too. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott voiced interest during his recent reelection campaign in a “professional entertainment option for Texans,” although what that looks like remains to be seen.
"We don’t want slot machines at every corner store, we don’t want Texans to be losing money that they need for everyday expenses, and we don’t want any type of crime that could be associated with gaming," the incumbent governor told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "But, if there is a way to create a professional entertainment option for Texans, I’d take a look at it in the coming legislative sessions."