Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones Tried Selling Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick on Texas Sports Betting

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jun 20, 2023 12:00 AM
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones couldn't bring Texas sports betting pat the finish line.

The fallout from another failed attempt to legalize Texas sports betting continues to trickle out in drips and drabs.

Rehashing the subject can be a sore spot for some. You might ask: Why focus on what's already done? Because it's important. The details surrounding the latest failed push for sports betting in Texas are nothing if not opportunities to learn and inform. The more we know, the easier it is to understand what went wrong, how it went wrong, and above all, what it will take to legalize sports gambling in The Lone Star State the next time around.

Not surprisingly, digging into what transpired during the 2023 Texas legislative sessions invariably leads to many discussions about Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. He is among the strongest opponents to the legalization of Texas sports betting and has been for quite some time. If The Lone Star State is going to rewrite their book on gambling, they will need his support—so long as he's in office, anyway.

To that end, the quest to change Patrick's tune is already underway. In fact, it has been for a while. This year, however, a bunch of heavy hitters were supposed to try shifting his stance. Some of them, such as Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, apparently tried. Others, it seems, backed out at the very last second—or, perhaps, weren't supporters of bringing sports gambling to Texas in the first place.

Jerry Jones Joined Forces with the Houston Rockets Owner to Push for Texas Sports Betting

Professional sports owners in the Texas marketplace are known to almost universally support legalized gambling. This is not the least bit shocking. Sports organizations stand to make millions, if not tens of millions, through partnerships and licensing agreements with the best online sports betting sites in the USA. While teams in Texas can legally sign these deals with gambling operators right now, the value of those contracts will skyrocket if their market actually permits online sports betting.

As a result, the owners of professional franchises tend to be one of the most outspoken advocates for legalized gambling. Especially in Texas. After all, The Lone Star State is considered the third largest betting market in the United States, behind only California and New York. Select experts even believe Texas' heightened interest in betting on college football ensures they could surpass The Empire State as the second-largest sports gambling market in the country.

A handful of the state's pro-sports-team owners were so committed to the cause that they tried appealing to Lt. Gov. Patrick's interests. Sources told Legal Sports Report's Mike Mazzeo that the Cowboys' Jerry Jones, perhaps the most influential owner in the NFL, spoke with Mr. Patrick about the issue. He was reportedly joined by Houston Rockets owner Tillman Fertitta, who also owns five Golden Nugget casinos located in downtown Las Vegas; Laughlin, Louisiana; Mississippi; Atlantic City; and Cripple Creek, Colorado.

This sounds like standard fare. And it is in many ways. But it's also a big deal. Billionaire sports owners control plenty of other businesses and have accumulated a bunch of power and connections. They have influence. When they speak, people in charge listen. The sheer fact that Jones and Fertitta were able to get Lt. Gov. Patrick's ear says it all.

Of course, the 2023 proposal for Texas sports betting fell short by a mile. So, Jones and Fertitta clearly weren't successful. And maybe, just maybe, they didn't stand a chance. Patrick has time and time again cited a lack of support throughout the Texas Senate. But what if it's a lack of endorsements outside the state's legislature that's fueling the difficulty?

Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban May Not Support Sports Gambling in Texas

At least one professional sports owner in Texas wasn't pushing for legalized sports gambling this year: Mark Cuban of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks. He was apparently more caught up in the expansion of the casino business.

According to Mazzeo, in fact, Cuban was "hoping to partner with Las Vegas Sands," which spent millions in a lobbying attempt to commercialize the Texas casino business. Their proposal included the construction of a hotel and casino mega resort, replete with restaurants and entertainment. It also featured lucrative revenue projections from an influx of tourism while guaranteeing the creation of in-state jobs, as well.

This initiative never gained any traction. Texas tribes remain against the commercialization of the casino business. Though, to be fair, it likely doesn't help that they were left off the latest sports betting measure.

Other Prominent Figures Failed to Advocate for Texas Sports Betting

Mark Cuban wasn't the only prominent name who opted against displaying public support for Texas sports betting. Others who were considered allies didn't put up much of a fight, either.

Senator Lois Kolkhorst was chief among them. She's known to have the ear of Lt. Gov. Patrick. She's believed to support the legalization of sports betting, as well. However, according to Mazzeo, Senator Kolkhorst was "silent on the issue throughout the 2023 legislative session." She declined multiple interview requests  to further clarify her stance from Legal Sports Report, too.

None of this bodes particularly well for the future of Texas sports betting. Sure, plenty of big names are prepared to support it. That's not nothing. Clearly, though, it also isn't everything. More progress would have been made this year if people like Jerry Jones and Tillman Fertitta actually held enough influence.

And so, the battle of sports gambling in Texas will continue. But for how long? And to what end?

At this point, nobody knows.

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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