Despite History of World Series Wagering, 'Mattress Mack' Opposes 2023 Texas Sports Betting Bill

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Feb 13, 2023 07:00 PM
Despite History of World Series Wagering, 'Mattress Mack' Opposes 2023 Texas Sports Betting Bill

If you've spent any time poking around the sports betting space, you probably know of Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale. For the uninitiated, Mr. McIngvale is a furniture tycoon operating predominantly out of Texas. However, throughout the United States, he is best known for placing multi-million bets on the World Series to help cover bargain sales promotions he runs during that time. With that background, you most likely think he's in favor of the latest 2023 Texas sports betting bill. And yet, as it turns out, he's not.

You read that correctly: Mattress Mack, someone whose claim to fame includes a wild $75 million World Series bet, currently doesn't support online sports betting in Texas. And not only doesn't he support it, but he's actively speaking out against it.

Now, you might be asking: Is this hypocritical? Or even: Is this real life? The answer to both is "yes." But before we go ethering Mattress Mack for his stance on Texas sports betting, we have to ask another question: Why is he against it in the first place?

Here's Why Mattress Mack Opposes 2023 Texas Sports Betting Bill

Like many others who oppose betting in Texas, Mattress Mack says its legalization would lead to dangerous upticks in gambling addictions. This comes across as wildly hypocritical; after all, he just won $75 million this past fall after betting on the World Series. When you actually parse his comments, though, he loops himself under this umbrella. Here's the lowdown on his recent comments to the Houston Chronicle, courtesy of Forbes:

"McIngvale, the owner of the Houston-based Galley Furniture chain, told the Houston Chronicle legalizing betting by phone would bolster gambling addiction, arguing his two-hour drives to neighboring Louisiana to place bets 'limits [his] impulses by a factor of 1,000.' McIngvale, who won $75 million last fall by betting on the Houston Astros to win the World Series—the biggest payout in sports betting history—urged lawmakers not to support the Republican-led bill, which was introduced on Monday and would also require support from voters in a November ballot referendum, telling Gallery Sports he’s '1,000 percent against it.'"

Mattress Mack's concerns come across slightly more genuine when framed this way. He's not claiming to have superhuman impulses relative to others. He readily acknowledged that having to leave the state helps keep his gambling in check.

Whether his stance will have any sway in the sports betting discussion remains to be seen. Public figures can always shift perception. Perhaps Mattress Mack's candor with regard to his own betting impulses will register with voters.

Will Lawmakers Support the New Texas Sports Betting Bill?

Sentiment on this subject remains split. The fact that this bill is being spearheaded by Republicans has many thinking it will go down as a success. Conservatives have, historically, proven to represent the biggest roadblock standing between Texas sports betting and legalization. With the pressure from pro sports teams inside the Lone Star State mounting, and with more than half of the USA now on the legal sports betting bandwagon, it seems like only a matter of time before Texas reshapes its gambling policies.

Mattress Mack's comments are unlikely to change this—insofar as he even has that level of influence. While his purported concern for gambling addiction is understandable, his issue actually gets to the root of why legalized Texas sports betting feels inevitable in the first place. As Mattress Mack notes, he must leave the state to place his wagers. From Texas' perspective, that's potential tax revenue walking out the door.

This has been the common refrain among supporters of the latest Texas sports betting bill. Republican senator Lois Kolkhorst, who introduced the newest proposal, has repeatedly cited the missed financial opportunity. Texans like Mattress Mack are already betting on sports. If they're not leaving the state, they're able to sign up with one of the many highly reviewed online sportsbooks that allow almost anyone in the United States to set up and service accounts. Why shouldn't Texas get a cut of money that's being spent even when they haven't legalized sports betting?

Could the Terms of the Lone Star State's New Sports Betting Bill Get Adjusted?

Certain critics of the 2023 Texas sports betting bill argue there could be some sort of middle ground. The prevailing proposal: legalize in-person wagering only. Under the terms of the current sports betting proposal, only online gambling would be green lit. By switching that to on-site wagering, it would theoretically make it more difficult for people to place bets, which should, in turn, limit some of the gambling-addiction increase.

Such a compromise feels unlikely. For starters, Texas won't legalize sports betting in hopes that people won't take advantage of it. State governments are in this to raise money via tax revenue.

Equally important, Texas doesn't have the casino infrastructure to prop up on-site sports betting the way other states do. They would need to embrace a more commercialized approach to the casino industry if they legalize in-person wagering alone. And that's something they've been resistant to for years.

In a way, then, legal online sports betting throughout Texas is the middle ground. And thought that doesn't guarantee the newest measure will be successful, it does suggest that Mattress Mack's outspoken opposition to the latest bill probably won't mean much in the end.

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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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