Former Texas Governor Rick Perry Believes Voters will Back Legal Sports Betting

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Mar 13, 2023 08:00 PM
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry Believes Voters will Back Legal Sports Betting

Is Texas ready for legal sports betting? It's a question that evokes many different answers. It's also an issue that invites plenty of equivocation and ambiguity. However, when former Governor Rick Perry recently weighed in on the matter, he minced neither words nor meaning. He believes legal sports betting in Texas will pass with flying colors if voters have their say.

Speaking on The World Series of Politics podcast, the governor said point blank that the 2023 proposal filed by Senator Lois Kolkhorst represented the best way to legalize betting in The Lone Star State. He then went on to explain the benefits sports gambling could bring to Texas.

Should we care about what Mr. Perry, who served as the Texas Governor between 2000 and 2015, has to say on this matter? And where does the future of sports betting in The Lone Star State stand? Let's dig into the latest.

Rick Perry Still Has Political Clout in Texas, But Can he Influence Legal Sports Betting

Despite being out of office for the past seven-plus years, Governor Perry still has deep ties to Texas—and plenty of clout. His political experience, remember, extends all the way to the federal level. Perry served as the United States' Secretary of Energy between 2017 and 2019.

This is all to say: People listen to him, and he continues to have supporters throughout the state. If he gives an endorsement, it will have an impact—especially if and when that endorsement comes on a popular podcast, like The World Series of Politics.

Regardless of whether you agree with Perry's stance on sports betting, his point about Texas voters may be unassailable. A poll conducted at the start of this year showed that 75 percent of Texas voters support legal sports betting in some form. What's more, this poll also showed that 70 percent of those who identify as born-again Christians were open to various type of legalized sports gambling. That is a big deal, since they represent a subset of ultra-conservative Texans who are supposed to strongly oppose wagering.

Polls can be wrong. All of them require margins for error. But they are seldom off by this much. On top of that, Perry is merely expressing a point of view that's increasingly shared by lawmakers in the House of Representatives and Senate.

Details of the The Sports Betting Supported by Rick Perry

The support Perry shows for Senator Lois Kolkhorst's proposal is further evidence of the evolving legal sports betting conversation in Texas. For starters, Kolkhorst's involvement itself is considered a massive development. She is an ally of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who many have seen as the largest obstacle to expanding the legal gambling market inside Texas.

Would Kolkhorst file her sports betting proposal without having the support of Patrick? That's debatable. But even her party affiliation is a big deal here. Kolkhorst is a Republican Senator. She most certainly wouldn't wade into these waters without gauging the temperature of her peers. And if you remember, it was Republicans who widely panned the previous Texas sports betting bill, which was initiated by Democrats.

In a bi-partisan country like the United States, these affiliations absolutely matter. For better or worse, it is part of the political sphere. But legal sports betting in Texas will invariably require support from both parties. That's why Kolkhorst's proposal has been limited to a narrower focus.

In 2021, the leading Texas sports betting bill would have legalized both in-person and online wagering. Many lawmakers from both parties expressed concern about the brick-and-mortar element. They were worried it would require the commercialization of the casino business, a move that has drawn opposition from Democrats and Republicans.

This year's Texas sports betting bill would legalize only online gambling. As officials have noted, the vast majority of legal bets placed in the United States are processed online anyway, so Texas wouldn't be sacrificing much, if anything, in potential revenue.

What's the Timeline for Legal Sports Betting in Texas?

The legalization of online gambling in Texas will require a constitutional amendment. That means the latest bill needs to appear on a general election ballot—assuming it passes through both the House and Senate. The next general election will take place in November 2024.

In most cases, this would assure Texas sports betting wouldn't debut until mid or late 2025, if not 2026. But the timeline could be different for The Lone Star State.

Since they would be legalizing remote operations alone, Texas would only be dealing with the most highly reviewed online sportsbooks in the business. And since those odds providers are both veterans of the business and prevalent throughout the rest of the United States, that should accelerate any prospective rollout. Texas sports betting could feasibly debut by early 2025, perhaps even at the end of 2024.

Of course, the latest gambling bill must actually pass first. Even if you believe, as Governor Rick Perry and many others do, that voters will overwhelmingly approve of legal sports betting, they need the opportunity to voice their opinion. That won't happen unless the Senator Lois Kolkhorst-authored gambling bill gets the stamp of approval from the House and Senate.

Thus far, there has been no finality on the matter. But the 2023 Texas legislation sessions will adjourn no later than May 29, so the state will have more clarity on the status of sports betting soon.

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

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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