Texas Sports Betting Bill Gets Filed Despite Uphill Battle

Texas sports betting is being pushed by a small group of sports betting brothers joined together to legalize sports betting in Texas. Last Tuesday, a bill was introduced by Texas lawmakers that is being supported by bipartisan lawmakers, pro sports teams, and sportsbooks.

However, the battle remains as this group tries to fight powerful opposition in passing a sports betting bill.

HB 2070 was filed by Rep. Dan Huberty and would allow for professional franchises in Texas to apply for sports betting licenses if Texans vote in favor of legalized sports betting in the 2021 November Election. That is if the bill even goes anywhere.

A two-thirds vote by both chambers would be needed to pass a constitutional amendment. That’s easier said than done, especially when one of the opponents is Lt., Governor Dan Patrick. The idea of sports betting in Texas sounds great on paper, but it faces a different reality in 2021.

Details of Texas Sports Betting Bill

If HB 2070 miraculously made it through, Texas would become one of four states to allow sports franchises the ability to apply for a sports betting license. Only Illinois, Virginia, and Washington D.C. currently allow it. The licenses would allow pro teams to set up a sportsbook at the arena, primarily in the Dallas and Houston area.

San Antonio would potentially receive a sportsbook thanks to the Spurs, and Austin would with Austin FC.

Huberty’s bill would also allow for racetracks to receive licenses, which would help sports betting expand across the state with numerous horse racing tracks available.

One of the biggest questions with licensing will be around college sports. The University of Texas is by far the most popular college football team in the Lone Star State. It would draw huge sports betting numbers if the state allowed for Universities to receive sports betting licenses.

With sports betting already a long shot, it’s hard to see Texas allowing college sports to receive sports betting, even with football as big as it is in the state. The move would be unprecedented even in 2021, although PointsBet did partner with the University of Colorado’s athletic department last year.

Very few states allow people to bet on in-state college sports, but Huberty’s bill will allow bettors to back the Longhorns in the fall. This could be a game-changing move between Texas football and the March Madness tournament.

Huberty also calls for a 10% tax on gross gaming revenue and has no cap on the number of licenses that Texas could distribute.

Let’s Get Political

Texas had expanded gaming since the 1990s when it brought the lottery into the state. 30 years later and legalizing sports betting is going to be no easy task. Even as the population is getting slightly more liberal, the state is still run by hard-core anti-gambling conservatives that aren’t into legalizing gambling of any kind.

Texas could begin feeling the gambling industry’s pressure as Oklahoma and Louisiana put casinos on Texas borders. New Mexico also has legal gambling at tribal casinos, and Louisiana recently passed sports betting in the last election.

Even if lawmakers finally begin to shift thoughts towards legal sports betting will then have to deal with Lt. Governor Patrick, who has been against sports betting and also recently told a Lubbock radio station that sports betting “wouldn’t see the light of day.”

Throw in the feud beginning between Patrick and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (who is pro sports betting), and the stand-off will continue for years to come. Patrick called out Cuban two weeks ago when the Mavericks owner decided they would not play the National Anthem at home games. The NBA stepped in and said it would be against league policy to do so.

Texas sports betting will need a constitutional amendment, meaning it will also need a two-thirds vote from both chambers to move forward. If this happens, the bill has to get somehow passed big bad lieutenant Dan to get to the Governor.

Can Texas Pull of the Miracle?

Texas lawmakers will have to look at some tape of Vince Young in the 20056 BCS Championship Game if it wants to legalize sports betting this year. The Lone Star State only has 14 weeks left until the 2021 session is complete, and lawmakers will not return until 2023.

During his radio interview two weeks ago, Patrick gave lawmakers an angle to work with to pass sports betting. The Lieutenant Governor said that sports betting would not be passed if it talks revenue due to how big the state budget is for Texas, roughly $215 billion.

Even if sports betting brings in $1 billion to the state, that’s only a few day’s worth. Lawmakers need to pitch tourism and job creation if it wants sports betting to pass.

Can Huberty and other lawmakers and bipartisan groups make it work in 14 weeks? That’s hard to say.

However, even if Texas has to wait until 2023, getting sports betting bills into the state is huge, and it can use the next two years to regroup and continue to change public interest towards sports betting.

Texas sports betting is looking like the end of the Battle of the Alamo right now, but that doesn’t mean the war is over. The Lone Star State might have to wait until 2023 to get something done.