Latest Texas Sports Betting Bid Officially Falls Short

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: May 30, 2023 08:00 PM
Latest Texas Sports Betting Bid Officially Falls Short

And just like that, the future of sports betting in Texas will be put on hold for at least another couple of years.

This year's round of legislative sessions recently adjourned in The Lone Star State. As expected, they left the meetings without approving an initiative that would have legalized Texas sports betting. This will now delay any further discussion about legal gambling—including the casino business—until around 2025.

Typically, this would be a time for supporters of Texas sports betting to lament another failed bid. However, officials who have been pushing the agenda were rather upbeat coming out of the 2023 legislative hearings. This suggests Texas has made some progress on the sports betting front.

But how much? And does any of it ultimately matter when they remain among the dozen-plus states that have yet to actually legalize sports gambling?

Was Texas Sports Betting Even Close to Being Legalized?

The short answer: Not really.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has maintained that the Texas Senate doesn't have the votes to legalize sports betting. He never wavered on those sentiments. In fact, he was so sure the legal gambling measure would fail that he didn't even introduce it for an official vote. It's a move that angered many, but Patrick remains adamant he was merely doing his civic duty.

"I've said repeatedly there is little to no support for expanding gaming from Senate GOP," he recently tweeted. "I polled members this week. Nothing changed. The senate must focus on issues voters expect us to pass. We don’t waste time on bills without overwhelming GOP support. HB 1942 won’t be referred."

Critics have questioned Patrick's motives. He hasn't registered among sports betting supporters since the laws in the United States changed back in 2018. Many also don't believe Lt. Gov. Patrick would even introduce a gambling bill, let alone support it, unless his Republican party authored it. 

It isn't clear whether this factored into his decision or influenced his alleged poll of GOP members. It's possible that he is simply telling the truth. After all, while HB 1942 wasn't exclusively constructed by Republicans, it wasn't purely a bill put together by Democrats. It was classified as a "bi-partisan" initiative, which means it was negotiated and agreed upon by both parties. Surely that would meet his (admittedly ridiculous) criteria for acknowledging a gambling proposal's existence.

Despite Failed Gambling Bid, Sports Betting Supporters Remain Upbeat

After HB 1942 failed to be voted on by the Texas Senate, you might think sports betting enthusiasts would be wallowing in disappointment. This is undoubtedly true for some—most notably Texans who have been waiting for legal sports betting to arrive in The Lone Star State. However, many officials count the latest round of debates as a small victory and step in the right direction. Some have even gone a step further in their assessments.

“By no means do we consider this a loss,” Texas Sports Betting Alliance spokesperson Cara Gufstason told PlayUSA. “We consider it a huge win. We definitely made a lot of progress. I think all that momentum can carry over into 2025 and maybe the third time will be a charm.”

Gufstason is not alone in her optimism. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who joined the 2023 legal gambling efforts after being asked by the Texas Sports Betting Alliance to do so, was similarly upbeat. He released the following statement through the Betting Alliance (via PlayUSA):

“We are thankful for and encouraged by the months of thoughtful policy discussions on both sides of the aisle, in both chambers, this legislative session to bring a legal mobile sports betting market to Texans. Because of the tireless work of our bill authors, Rep. Jeff Leach and Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, Texas made history when mobile sports betting legislation was overwhelmingly approved in a House vote of 101-42.”

Perry's final point is the one to which sports betting supporters cling to the tightest. HB 1942 may not have enjoyed a ton of support in the Senate, but it was treated like a no-brainer by the House of Representatives. The vast majority of members gave it their stamp of approval. And this endorsement was overwhelmingly bi-partisan. That could indeed bode well for future talks.

The Issue of Casinos Could Hold the Key to the Future of Texas Sports Betting

Though many inside the Texas Senate remain morally opposed to legal sports betting, most tend to recognize that it has become an inevitability. Nearly 40 of 50 states have now legalized sports gambling or have plans to do so. It is only a matter of time before Texas follows suit.

This feeling of inevitability has only intensified on the heels of numerous studies indicating The Lone Star State is already home to plenty of gambling. Many reputable off-short bookies have no issue accepting international customers from anywhere. Most of the sites from our reviews of the best online sportsbooks offer safe wagering experiences to just about anyone—regardless of location. Experts estimate that Texans bet more than $1 billion per year with out-of-state operators. That number alone is enough to turn heads—and change plenty of minds.

Still, as legal sports betting becomes a more commonly accepted practice, Texas has struggled to generate widespread approval for their bills. And it's starting to seem like this has more to do with the casino business. Members of the Senate have repeatedly played up the potentially harmful ramifications of commercializing the casino industry. They have cited everything from predatory business practices, an untenable increase in tourism and everything in between.

Could Texas garner more support for sports betting if they figure out a compromise? Or if they simply legalize Texas online sports betting while continuing to restrict on-site gambling? Or is this merely an all-or-nothing proposition?

We'll surely know more in the coming days, weeks and months. But here's what we know right now: Supports for Texas sports betting is progressing in the right direction...but also still lacking.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works for all of your sports betting needs:

Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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