Legalized sports betting in Texas may be one step further to becoming a reality. Gov. Greg Abbott has stipulated he is not against signing a sports betting bill with some requirements in place. Polls suggest most Texans are for legalizing sports betting in the state. Gov. Abbott has stated gambling is just a ‘form of entertainment’ but he doesn’t want Texas turned into a gambling hub with betting terminals on every street corner.
Texans are already finding ways to bypass local laws and bet on sports online anyway he stated, so it’s counterintuitive for the local government to miss out on the tax windfall that comes with legalized betting. Gambling bills are awaiting action in both the House and Senate, with growing support in the state to finally make it legal across the board.
Republican Gov. Abbott also stated he is wary of casino gaming, but not completely against it. Protecting Texas citizens from the downfalls of gambling is his main concern. Gamblers who spend all their money in casinos and other betting establishments will then turn to the state when they can’t afford to put their bills.
Slot machines in retail establishments and other easy-access gambling operations are also a concern for other party members. Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan stated he would prefer destination-style casinos along the border with Louisiana and other gambling-friendly states.
Not everyone is supporting the push for legalized betting in the state. Presiding over the GOP-controlled Senate, Lt. Gov. Patrick has been against any form of betting in the state. Those against the legalization of betting in Texas are in the minority. Even one of the senior Republicans that was appointed by Lt. Gov Patrick has filed a sports-betting bill. All the major Texas sporting institutions have come out in support of the measure.
Republican Jeff Leach has also put forward another measure in the House for sports betting in Texas to become legal. Sports betting has been legalized in 36 states so far, with Texas expected to be following suit very soon. Texas, Alabama, Alaska, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah and Vermont have still to allow sports betting in any capacity.
Lawmakers in Texas are being pressured with new bills and growing support to allow sports betting. Well-connected lobbyists and supporters are working with the Texas Sports Betting Alliance to drum up support for the sports betting bills in the House and Senate. Opposition to the measures does remain though, with Christian group leaders and other advocates fighting the push for legalized sports betting in Texas.
Those against, fear that if the betting bill gets passed, Indian gaming casinos will soon spring up all over Texas. What the future holds for betting in Texas is yet to be decided. With many powerful lobbyists and sports organizations pushing for legalization, it may be only a matter of time.
With the ability of Texans to easily bet online through offshore sportsbooks and casinos, the legalization of sports betting in many other states, and the tax windfall that Texas will receive from allowing betting, it will be hard for the opposition to fight it much longer.