Texas State Representative Files Sports Betting Bills

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Two bills to legalize sports betting have been introduced in Texas.

30-second summary

  • State Rep. Eddie Lucio III has filed two sports betting measures
  • Professional and some college sporting events could be wagered on
  • 6.25% tax proposed on wagers, with funds used to help public schools

Sports betting could be legalized in Texas if State Representative Eddie Lucio III has his way. He recently filed two measures that would legalize sports betting in the Lone Star State if passed into law. The bills would allow betting on professional sports games and some college events. Games involving any Texas college and high school games would be excluded.

Texas Association of Business support

The proposal has a long way to go before it can become reality. The state government is Republican-controlled, so it may be difficult for Rep. Lucio to find enough support. The Texas party last year campaigned on its opposition to legalized gambling expansion for the state.

However, the proposal still has support. The Texas Association of Business is a lobbying group that has endorsed sports betting legalization. The group would like to see the revenues taxed and money go toward lowering the business tax. Lucio’s proposal would levy a 6.25% tax on sports betting, with the funds going to public schools.

Bill breakdown

Rep. Lucio has filed two meshing pieces of legislation. House Joint Resolution 61 would place a referendum on the November ballot to ask voters if they want to see the Texas Constitution amended to allow sports betting.

House Bill 1275 would create the framework to regulate the industry. This bill states that only five permits can be issued involving sports betting. Operators who wish to offer services would have to submit an application and pay $250,000 (€218,810; £192,278) fee.

Licensing would be valid for three years, after which there would be a renewal fee of $200,000 (€175,048; £153,822). If a vote is taken in November and a change to the state constitution is approved, sports betting could be ready for operation by January 2020.

Lucio has been campaigning for sports betting in Texas for quite some time. When the United States Supreme Court ruled in May that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was invalid, he spoke publicly about the ruling.

Lucio said: The ruling “highlights the importance of the State of Texas’s right in deciding for ourselves whether an initiative like this is best for Texas.”

If sports betting were to be legalized in the state, it could create over 9,000 employment positions. A study by the American Sports Betting Coalition showed the job creation estimates as well as the possibility to increase the Texas economy by around $1.7b (€1.4b; £1.3b).

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