Texas Sports Betting Bill Officially Brought Before House Committee

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Mar 22, 2023 08:00 PM
Texas Sports Betting Bill Officially Brought Before House Committee

Is 2023 the year sports betting in Texas finally gets approved by the state's House of Representatives and Senate? For better or worse, we will know soon enough.

The latest Texas sports betting bill has officially been brought before the state's House Committee. If the proposal passes through this panel, it will appear before the full House of Representatives. And if it's passed there as well, it will then be put in front of the Senate. That is the last step before it reaches the 2024 general election ballot.

But projecting that far into the future is too many steps ahead. This latest Texas sports betting bill, known as HB 2843, must first make it through the initial test. The Lone Star State's House Committee can effectively kill it before ever taking the measure to a wider-spread vote. And the debate over HB 2843 is already fierce. The House Committee is currently in the process of hearing both sides of the argument. A final decision is expected to come down soon.

What will that decision be? Let's parse the sales pitches from both sides of Texas' 2023 sports betting bill to see if we can find out.

Texas Sports Betting Advocates Are Focusing on the Risks and Frequency of Illegal Gambling in The Lone Star State

Traditionally, advocates of sports betting legislation emphasize the potential tax revenue of any new measure. Supporters of legal gambling in Texas are no different. They consistently argue that a 10 percent tax on all sports betting revenue will be worth hundreds of millions of dollars every year. For context, sports betting in New York generated more than $825 million in pure profit for the state during its first 14 months of legalization. Experts believe Texas' gambling market will be worth just as much, if not more, since The Lone Star State has an additional 10 million residents.

Still, this time around, gambling advocates have devoted more focus to the frequency with which illegal sports betting takes place in Texas—and the risks associated with it. Zach Despart of the Texas Tribune has more on the case being made by The Lone Star State's most ardent gambling supporters;

Leach is not the first government official to make this argument. But his sentiments are among the strongest ever expressed during a House Committee hearing. More importantly, he's not wrong. Texans, along with everyone else in the United States, don't need domestic bookies to place wagers. They can find trustworthy veterans of the industry elsewhere. There are plenty of sites from our reviews of the top online sportsbooks that will allow anyone in the USA to set up an account—regardless of where they live.

Of course, not everyone signs up with a trusted odds provider when venturing outside North America. Some wind up with lesser-known and loosely protected sites that protect neither their investment nor their private information. It's this exact risk that Leach has tried to hammer home. He told the House Committee that Texas "bettors are putting their data and security at risk by placing bets with overseas platforms and have no recourse if they are scammed."

Opponents of Texas Sports Betting Continue to be Vocal

While Rep. Leach's argument has garnered plenty of praise for both its poignancy and accuracy, it is not without detractors. Opponents of Texas sports betting still claim that the extra protection afforded by domestic bookies is ultimately offset by the risk associated with easier access to wagering properties.

"Research has shown gambling has many negative impacts," said Jonathan Covey, the policy director for the social conservative group Texas Values, per the Texas Tribune. "We know there’s consistent evidence of an association between gambling and problems like family violence. Expansion of gambling of any form is addictive and harmful to families.”

This side of the fence has many of its own supporters. And they have fairly sturdy legs to stand on.

Multiple studies, they point out, have shown that sports betting advertisements and operations disproportionately target "average" or socioeconomically challenged people. This is why Texas has long opposed the expansion of casino commercialization, in addition to sports betting. This is also why so many are unsure whether HB 2843 will make it past the House Committee, let alone the full House of Representatives and Senate.

If Money Talks, Texas Sports Betting Stands a Good Chance in 2023

Discrediting the risks of addiction associated with legal sports betting is impossible. Every state that has made the transition needed to grapple with it. Supporters can only hope a financial commitment to developing and funding programs that battle addiction make all the difference. 

Beyond that, they must also hope the promise of money talks—loudly.

In Texas' case, it seems to be doing just that. A study by the American Gaming Association found that illegal gambling in Texas is costing that state at least $700 million in annual tax revenue, according to Eric Schippers, a lobbyist for gaming company Penn Entertainment. That's not money even the strongest skeptics can simply ignore—especially when it's calculated from a pool of bets already being placed despite Texas' gambling laws.

Will this argument be convincing enough to give Texas sports betting a fighting chance to appear on the 2024 general election ballot? Again: We can't be sure. But we will have more clarity in a matter of weeks—if not days.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that fits 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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