For Texas, legal gambling means a road trip to Louisiana or Oklahoma — or a flight to Vegas. That, however, could change.
On March 22, 2023, the Texas House State Affairs Committee heard testimony for bills on legalizing online sports betting and placing casinos inside states, according to The Texas Tribune.
Jeff Leach, who submitted House Bill 1942 to regulate sports betting, said that sports betting and online casinos are already rampant in Texas due to easy access to foreign platforms using the internet. And he is concerned about the risk of data and information leaks or fraudulent use of them which ends up being disadvantageous to gamblers. He thinks a regulated model can help protect the bettors.
Leach stated that neither athletes nor coaches won’t be allowed to participate, and bettings on youth sports will be prohibited.
Supporters of the bill include the Texas Sports Betting Alliance, a group of professional sports franchises and betting platforms. And representatives from the Dallas Cowboys, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Astros and PGA Tour testified for the bill on Wednesday.
Scott Ward of the Sports Betting Alliance said the group estimates that Texans bet more than $6 billion annually on sporting events.
Giles Kibbe, senior vice president for the Astros, said, “This is a very big part of the sports and entertainment landscape in Texas … and will continue to increase with or without this legislation.” He added that the bill would protect the integrity of sporting events.
Although sports betting is estimated to bring annual tax revenue of $180 million in Texas, and casinos in Nevada bring $600 million a year in tax, there are some concerns.
Rep. Matt Shaheen, who opposes casinos and any forms of gambling, argued that the economic advantages are oversold and expansion of gambling leads to addiction and crime.
The bills have to be approved by two-thirds of both the Texas legislative chamber and state voters on November 7 general election to be legalized.