Lawmakers Making Aggressive Push for Texas Legal Sports Betting in 2023

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jan 8, 2023 07:00 PM
Lawmakers Making Aggressive Push for Texas Legal Sports Betting in 2023

Over the past year or so, there have been a growing number of signs that sports betting in Texas is becoming a seriously urgent priority for lawmakers. More and more officials have spoken out in support of it, and there have been extra efforts from invested parties to lobby the benefits of its implementation. The big, potentially multi-billion dollar question: Would this increased focus actually lead to Texas legal sports betting in 2023? Or, just like last year, are the latest reports nothing more than a vessel through which Lone Star sports bettors are treated to false hope?

Normally, we are not in the business of making predictions without concrete proof. Nothing is ever certain when it comes to legal sports betting throughout the United States. California serves as the most recent example. The overwhelming expectation was that California sports betting would be legalized in some form during the 2022 election period. But then, in the span of weeks, sentiment shifted entirely and both of the state's sports betting bills were turned away at the polls.

And yet, we would be remiss if we didn't admit that the future of Texas legal sports betting is looking awfully bright as we journey deeper into 2023.

Indeed, the state hasn't offered any assurances. But as they prepare to open legislative meetings this coming week, they've shown a renewed commitment to expanding casino laws and, by extension, warming up to the idea of legal sports betting.

State Senator Files 2023 Bill for Casino Expansion and Texas Legal Sports Betting

The introduction of another Texas sports betting bill isn't necessarily breaking news. On the contrary, it has become standard practice over the years. A bill gets to the House of Representatives and sometimes through to the Senate; it gets discussed; rumors circulate that it might make it out of the Senate; and then, invariably, the bill fails to pass before the legislative session adjourns.

Still, this time might be different. Not only has the prevailing sentiment on sports betting in Texas seemingly changed, but the details of the latest bill appear to cover all the major bases in a way unlike any of its predecessors. RJ Marquez reported on all the finer points for KSAT-TV in Texas:

"Texas State Sen. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) recently filed bill SJR 17 in the legislature. If passed, the bill would authorize and regulate casino gaming at a limited number of destination resorts and facilities in Texas, with San Antonio being one of them. The other destinations Alvarado mentioned would be Austin, Dallas, and Houston. 'This is something I’ve been pushing for quite some time because I believe it diversifies our economy. It makes Texas a destination place with resorts and all sorts of amenities,' said Alvarado.

"The bill also states that facilities licensed by a proposed Texas Gaming Commission would require occupational licenses to conduct casino gaming and require the imposition of a tax. 'This would have to be a casino that has a four- or five-star hotel, shops and restaurants,” said Alvarado. 'The regulations and everything for a licensee to even bid will be pretty strict. You’ll have to go through extensive background checks and everything else. So these would be very specific."

Senator Alvarado's constitutional amendment is the most comprehensive sports betting bill we've seen proposed by a Texas lawmaker so far. Whereas others have predominantly focused on opening up the entire market for the sake of profit, Alvarado has included restrictive measures that might juuust be proactive enough to sway members of the House and Senate who have so far opposed Texas sports betting.

Does Texas Sports Betting Have Enough Support to Get Legalized?

To be absolutely certain, not everyone is over the moon about Senator Alvarado's sports betting bill. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who openly opposed any form of legalized gambling in Texas, continues to insist that while the proposal may make it through the House of Representatives, it won't have the support required from the Senate to reach voters in the Lone Star State.

This might turn out to be accurate. Republican officials in Texas are notoriously hesitant to compromise with Democratic lawmakers. More than that, conservatives have repeatedly expressed concerns about policing the gambling industry. 

That angst doesn't appear to have dissipated. Other states have simply acknowledged that prohibiting sports betting doesn't succeed in stamping it out. Select neighboring states will always offer alternatives to residents in places without legal gambling, and there are a vast number of highly reviewed top online sportsbooks that currently allow almost anyone in the United States to sign up and place wagers.

Texas has yet to make that concession. In fact, the Lone Star state has actually proposed legislation that would seek to go after off-shore sportsbooks for taking on customers from Texas—an unprecedented measure. That is also expected to be a topic during the 2023 legislative session.

What's Next for Texas Sports Betting?

The next step for Texas sports betting is simple and, frankly, not very exciting: patience

Texas legislative meetings are scheduled to begin on Tuesday, January 10. And because they span weeks upon weeks, there may not be a definitive update on the fate of sports betting in Texas until we get closer to the spring.

Rest assured, though, and this issue won't fade into anything. Lawmakers on the Democratic side, in particular, are dead set on giving legal sports betting a fair shake this time. And it wouldn't surprise us if this is the year a proposal successfully makes it through to the Senate and onto the 2024 election ballot.

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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