Sports betting Texas legislation could be in for a huge change this year, as the House of Representatives approved a referendum which includes an online sports betting question in the upcoming November 2023 general election ballot. This means that Texas voters will decide the future of sports betting in the state.
The referendum, proposed by Rep. Jeff Leach, required at least 100 votes on the third reading to proceed to the Senate.
After two failed attempts, the referendum successfully got the the 101 votes needed on the third push. Therefore, this marks a huge step forward for sports betting law in Texas.
The positive stance towards sports betting within the House is evident. But the path ahead in the Senate poses a bigger challenge. While the House favored Leach’s online sports betting bill, 82-51, the final decision rests with the Senate. It’s here that resistance to sports betting has been stronger.
If both the referendum and the bill receive Senate approval before the legislative session concludes on May 29, Texans will have the chance to shape the fate of sports betting in the state through the November 7 election.
Leach’s bill supports the legalization of online sports betting through Texan professional sports teams. Licenses will be made available to WNBA, MLS, MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises.
Online sports betting would also face a tax rate of 10 percent on adjusted gross sports betting revenue. Each license issued would also carry a cost of $500,000.
The Texas Sports Betting Alliance, made up of Texas professional sports franchises, sports leagues, race tracks, and sports betting platforms, has expressed its support for Leach’s bill.
President of the Sports Betting Alliance Jeremy Kudon commended the House for its approval, pointing out the desire of Texans to legally engage in sports betting. He said:
Despite the House’s positive view, how the bill will get through the Senate remains unclear. Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick is a major opponent of legalized sports betting and has said that there is not enough support in the Senate for its approval.
He spoke of the need for consensus among Republican Senators. The bill needs around 15 or 16 senators to favor it. Otherwise, Patrick said that he would not bring any bill to the Senate floor for a vote if lacked Republican support.
With 31 members in the Texas Senate, a bill needs 21 votes (two-thirds majority) for approval. While the bill currently enjoys the support of 12 Democrat Senators expected to vote in favor, it still requires more Republican backing to move forward.
The governor’s reluctance to allow a bill to proceed without enough Republican support raises doubts about the fate of sports betting legislation in Texas.
As the referendum and Leach’s bill face the Senate, the future of sports betting in Texas hangs in the balance. While the House has shown its support, the approval of the Senate remains an uphill battle.
In summary, the final decision rests on the shoulders of the Senate. Only time will tell if Texas will join the growing list of states saying yes to sports betting.
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