Sports fans in Texas have been waiting on pins and needles for years to see if the state will ever legalize sports betting. That wait lives on, and it will continue until at least November 2022, when the next major elections are held and the matter is expected to be voted on. But Beto O'Rourke, a former presidential candidate now running for governor in Texas, has just recently thrown an interesting wrinkle into the equation.
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Beto O'Rourke has officially called for legal online sports betting in Texas. This is not a drill. It also happens to be a mission critical development—and victory—for anyone who supports legalized sports betting throughout The Lone Star state.
Other government officials and electoral candidates have, of course, spoke out in support of legalized betting. And widespread support is to be expected. After all, sports betting is legal in the USA for more than half of the 50 states at this point. Backing its implementation isn't exactly a novel concept.
But O'Rourke, a former presidential candidate who is currently the Democratic nominee to be governor in Texas, is the biggest name to give his stamp of approval to date. His stance will not only have ripple effects on the fight to legalize sports betting in Texas, but it could reshape the 2022 elections as we know it.
Of course, nothing is set in stone. So before you go pillaging through our reviews of the top online sportsbooks to find a home for your wagering, stick with us as we explore the ramifications of O'Rourke's pro-gambling stance.
Why Beto O'Rourke Supports Betting
Just in case anyone is wondering whether O'Rourke only gave a lukewarm endorsement, we're here to let you know he did the exact opposite.
“From listening to Texans across the state, it’s one, a very popular proposal, and two, it would also help us address some of the challenges we have in reducing inflation and property taxes in the state,” the former Democratic congressman from El Paso told reporters recently, according to the Houston Chronicle. “So I think that warrants a very close look and it’s something I’m inclined to support.”
This phrasing leaves little room for doubt. O'Rourke isn't using sports betting as a ploy to reel in voters on the fence (more on this in a minute). He genuinely thinks the legalization of sports betting can be something of an economic boon for the state.
And who could blame him? So many states are reeling from the ill effects of the coronavirus pandemic, including, as O'Rourke mentioned, inflation and the rising property taxes it has caused. As one of the premier sports markets in the United States, Texas is in a position to tax potentially licensed sportsbooks at a higher rate than most while also generating more overall business than most. That certainly lends credence to his logic on the subject.
Can Legalized Sports Betting Really Solve Texas' Economic Problems?
There is no cure-all to what ails Texas and the rest of the United States. The economy is cyclical. Everything needs time to correct itself.
And yet, extra revenue is a close second when it comes to addressing inflation and fears of a recession.
To that end, Texas is currently leaving a boatload of state revenue on the table. Given the number of sports teams in their market, as well as the total population, most experts believe that Texas will generate at least $1.2 billion in total sports betting revenue per year. That's an absurd amount of money.
Granted, that isn't how much cash Texas would actually make. Sportsbooks would need to pay out winning bets and get to keep a bulk of the profits themselves. But assuming a standardized sportsbook tax, that would still leave Texas with tens of millions of dollars in extra revenue that they can funnel into the economy.
How Beto O'Rourke's Stance Could Influence Texas Elections
O'Rourke, who is running as a Democrat, is currently considered an underdog against incumbent Republican Governor Greg Abbott. Many polls estimate that Abbott will win in a landslide next fall.
But O'Rourke's recent comments could shift the calculus. In fact, some polls have already seen his approval ratings move in a positive direction. Generally speaking, and according to a few different expert polls, residents in Texas either support sports betting that much or just want to see the economy get an infusion of cash.
Will this mentality boost O'Rourke into office? It's tough to say. But he doesn't necessarily need to win for sports betting to be legalized in Texas.
Sports Betting Enthusiasts in Texas Can Star Resting Easy
By coming out in support of legalized sports betting, O'Rourke has actually done two things: Improved his chances of winning the governor's election in November and put pressure on the opposition to warm up to the idea.
Incumbent governor Abbott is known as an opponent of Texas' pro-sports-betting bill. But if he starts to see poll numbers slip towards O'Rourke, you can—ahem—bet your bottom dollar that he'll start to change his tune in hopes of securing another term.
Whether you support him or O'Rourke is almost irrelevant right now. Because as it stands, it seems as if sports betting is destined to become legal in Texas by 2023 no matter who ends up being governor at the end of all this.
Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all of your sports wagering needs: