As the second most populous state in the United States, it’s surprising that Texas doesn’t have a legal online sports betting market yet. But earlier this year, legislators from the state’s House of Representatives gained significant traction for the industry when they passed the bill. Does this mean online sports betting companies will soon enter the Lone Star State?
As it turns out, not quite. Although the bill did have some initial momentum, some Texas lawmakers are still vehemently opposed to the idea. But not all hope is lost, so let’s learn more about the situation.
What are HB 1942 and HJR 102?
HB 1942, HJR 102, and to an extent, HJR 155 all point to the same purpose: allowing legalized online sports betting and the construction of resort casinos in Texas. If successful, the online sports betting market would partner with professional sports teams from their biggest market yet.
Specifically, HB 1942 opened the conversation in the Texas House of Representatives, and it had bipartisan support. This led to the House voting on HJR 102, which would amend the state’s constitution to legalize online sports betting. Meanwhile, HJR 155 would create the Texas Gaming Commission to oversee all gambling-related activities.
How have Texas legislators voted on these bills?
HB 1942 and HJR 102 had a great start in Texas. Both parties supported the idea, passing the bill with a two-thirds majority vote. For a while, it looked as if Texas was on its way to becoming the latest state with an online gaming industry.
But the supporters’ hopes were dashed when Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick expressed on social media that he would block the bill on the state’s Senate floor. That means even though it passed the House with good bipartisan support, no one in the Senate would spend time deliberating it.
Even if it reached the Senate and got enough votes for a referendum, Texas Governor Greg Abbott could still derail the plans.
What’s the current outlook for Texas and online sports betting?
At the moment, HJR 102 is dead despite the initial momentum it received. Lt. Gov. Patrick’s statement has dashed any and all hope of this bill ever going anywhere past the House.
And because Texas legislation meets every other year, prospective online bettors in the state will have to wait until 2025 to see if the proposition goes somewhere again. That means going out of state to Louisiana or Oklahoma for casino games and in-person betting.
Some lawmakers have expressed optimism about the bill’s future in 2025. A few mentioned that they don’t feel it’s the right time yet for legalized gambling in the state, while others thought the bill needed further consideration to become reasonable. However, it’s still not a straight shot because both Lt. Gov. Patrick and Gov. Abbott will continue their posts in 2025.
But when it comes to legal online sports betting in Texas, one thing’s for sure: this won’t be the last time Texans will hear this prospect getting discussed. After all, it’s hard to ignore additional tax revenue that could reach billions in its first year.