Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick Paints Bleak Picture for Texas Sports Betting

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 9, 2024 08:00 PM
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick Paints Bleak Picture for Texas Sports Betting

Hope for the legalization of Texas sports betting and casino gaming has mounted in recent weeks. At the center of it all: Mark Cuban selling the Dallas Mavericks to a billionaire casino stakeholder.

It was a move many believe portended the advancement of sports betting in Texas as well as casino commercialization throughout the region. Cuban has long been a proponent of both, and he sold his team to Miriam Adelson, the largest shareholder of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. And it just so happens Las Vegas Sands has been trying to gain a foothold in The Lone Star State by advocating for—and bankrolling—gambling initiatives.

Surely this was not a deal borne strictly out of convenience. It meant something. It had to. Sports betting and casino gaming were clearly garnering more support. And they would most certainly top the legislative agenda when state officials reconvene at the beginning of 2025


Er, not so much.

At least, this is what Texas Lieutenant Dan Patrick would have us believe. He recently reiterated that there isn’t enough support to move forward with plans to legalize Texas casino gaming or sports betting. That doesn’t bode well in a vacuum. It could mean 2025 comes and goes without a meaningful sports gambling discussion. And from there, The Lone Star State wouldn’t be slated to talk about it again, if at all, until 2027

Just how strong were Patrick’s latest sentiments? Will they have a material bearing on the Texas sports betting debate over the coming year? Why isn’t there (allegedly) enough momentum to legalize sports gambling? Join us as we once again journey into the Texas sports betting weeds

Lieutenant Governor Patrick: We ‘Aren’t Even Close’ to Having Necessary Casino Votes 

Multiple polls over the past couple of years have shown that Texans are increasingly open to sports betting and casino-gaming legislation. But Lieutenant Governor Patrick does not believe this sentiment is shared by congress.

Speaking with CBS News earlier this month, Mr. Patrick was asked about Cuban’s sale of the Mavs to Ms. Adelson and what it might mean for the future of casino gambling in Texas. Mike Mazzeo of Legal Sports Report provided a synopsis of the conversation:

“‘My experience and my knowledge is that we aren’t even close to having 15 or 16 votes for casinos,’ Patrick Said…Patrick said there was no outcry from the voting public after both Texas sports betting and casino legislation failed to pass. A Texas sports betting bill passed the House for the first time before meeting defeat in the Senate without significant consideration. ‘When the session was over, there was not a cry from voters calling their senators or House members, gosh, we didn’t pass, I needed this bill,’ Patrick said.”

Measuring the lack of outcry isn’t exactly a scientific gauge of public sentiment. And it might be flat-out inaccurate.

Recent Poll Showed Texas Sports Betting has Support Among Voters

A 2023 poll conducted by the University of Houston found that 75 percent of those surveyed support some form of Texas sports betting legislation. And over 40 percent of those asked said they “strongly” supported it. What’s more, the poll also found that support for sports betting in Texas is fairly high among Born-Again Christians, who are typically among the most politically conservative voters in the country.

Surveys, of course, are subject to margin for error. But even if these results were off, they have plenty of cushion. More than that, it’s unwise to declare anything without absolute, regardless of whether it’s pro- or anti-Texas sports betting. The fact is, we don’t know how Texans really feel about sports gambling and casino gaming because they haven’t been given the opportunity to vote on it.

If the University of Houston study is in any way accurate, Mr. Patrick is overstating opposition at best. At worst, he's projecting his own stance onto an entire state. The Lieutenant Governor has been among the strongest and most vocal opponents to Texas casino and sports betting legislation. Comments like this must be taken with a metric ton of salt.

Perhaps Patrick was more so playing up opposition within congress rather than the state’s voters. But not even that entirely tracks. Remember: A 2023 Texas sports betting bill made it through the House. And while it died in the Senate, many believe Mr. Patrick was driving the disdain for it more than anyone else.

Where Does This Leave the Future of Texas Sports Betting and Casino Gaming?

It’s tough to make any concrete predictions about the future of casino gaming and sports betting in Texas. The next legislative sessions are more than one year away at this writing. A lot can change between now and then.

At the same time, any optimism should probably be tabled so long as Patrick is in office. And he’s slated to be there until 2026. That means Texas sports betting initiatives may not have a fair shake at passing through the House and Senate before 2027

In the event Patrick becomes more open to proposals, there’s a good chance it won’t benefit most online sportsbooks in the United States. At this juncture, Texas seems more likely to approve casino gaming and maybe on-site sports gambling to help drive tourism—a known goal of the state. The legalization of online sports wagering, while inarguably lucrative, will not impact the flow of people into The Lone Star State. 

To be sure, nothing is written in stone. This has been a years-long debate, and it figures to last at least another year, if not three. All we can do is monitor the Texas sports betting debate for a shift in sentiment.

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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