New Texas Bill Proposes Legalizing Sports Betting and Casinos

  • The bill aims to put the matter of legalizing sports betting and/or casinos to a public vote
  • Four casino resorts would be permitted in major Texas cities as part of the bill
  • Not many details of legal sports betting have been outlined as of yet
  • Previous attempts to expand gambling in Texas have been unsuccessful
Texas flag
A new pre-filed bill in Texas aims to legalize sports betting and casinos. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Getting ready for the new legislative session

A new bill in Texas aims to legalize sports betting and casinos. Politicians in the state are getting ready for the beginning of the 2023 legislative session in January by pre-filing bills. Senator Carol Alvarado introduced Senate Joint Resolution 17 on Monday.

The earliest such a public vote could take place is November 2023.

The bill aims to amend the state constitution. If it gets two-thirds support in both chambers of the state legislature, the matter of legalizing sports betting and/or casinos would then go to a public vote. The earliest such a public vote could take place is November 2023.

Some details of the bill

If successful, the bill would see the creation of the Texas Gaming Commission and would allow for the construction of four casino resorts in major cities with over two million residents. The bill proposes different types of gaming licenses, including some which would allow certain forms of gambling in smaller Texas cities at race tracks and tribal facilities.

Major casino companies have been lobbying strongly in recent years for legalized casino gambling, with Texas being a massive potential market. The same goes for sports betting, as Texas is the second most-populated US state.

The bill proposes using the tax revenue from the new types of gambling for public safety and education-related programs. There are not too many details as to what legal sports betting would look like, including if only retail sports betting would be permitted or what the tax rate would be.

For and against expanded gambling

Those in favor of expanding gambling in Texas point toward the potential for significant tax revenue. There are already large numbers of people engaging in black market gambling or going out of state in order to place sports bets or visit casinos. Having a regulated gambling sector could also allow the authorities to better protect Texas residents from problem gambling.

historically been a very conservative state when it comes to gambling

Texas has historically been a very conservative state when it comes to gambling. The main forms of legal gambling are the state lottery, horse racing betting, and some tribal gaming options. Previous attempts to push through legal sports betting or casino gambling have proven to be unsuccessful.

Those who oppose expanding gambling in the state believe that it would only increase crime rates and addiction levels. Many conservative religious groups and certain political circles are vehemently against the idea. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has long been against gambling expansion in the state up until recently. Last month, it was revealed that Abbott would listen to proposals on the matter.