On Tuesday, November 7, incumbent Texas governor Greg Abbott was officially re-elected for a third term. While many republicans are celebrating another massive win for the party, anyone who supports Texas sports betting is yet again left to brace for the worst.
To be sure, the re-election of Greg Abbott doesn't change the potential timeline for legal sports betting in Texas. After the state's latest failure to pass a measure that would expand casino gambling, the issue will not be addressed again until the next round of legislation meetings. Those will not take place until next year.
Still, there's a reason why the Democratic candidate for governor, Beto O'Rourke, focused a significant portion of his campaign strategy on Texas sports betting. He not only understands how much revenue the state is missing out on. His campaign also understood that full-fledged support of online sports betting in Texas was among the most effective ways to sway undecided voters.
Numerous polls over the past couple of years conducted by major news outlets have shown a majority of Texans want some form of legal sports betting. Its continued absence is more of a Republican party line than anything else. O'Rourke tried to gain momentum among voters by speaking out against the state's archaic stance on sports betting. But while it worked to some degree, since he secured over 40 percent of the active vote, it ultimately wasn't enough. Greg Abbott remains the governor, and as a result, the most preferable form of Texas sports betting may remain a pipe dream.
Why Do Republicans Seem to Oppose Texas Sports Betting?
Supporters of sports betting in Texas tend to have trouble understanding the general reluctance to legalize it from the Republican party. Texas is considered one of the four largest sports markets in the USA, alongside fellow flagship states like New York, Florida and California. Experts believe that the Lone Star State stands to take in billions of dollars in sports betting revenue each year. In fact, experts also estimate the illegal sports betting market in Texas is worth more than a billion dollars per year on its own.
And yet, the state has still failed to legalize sports betting at every possible opportunity. And while the reasons vary across the board, with many expressing concern for the potential uptick in gambling addiction, the prevailing obstacle is a hesitance to amend the state's constitution.
Republicans are historically against making major alterations to the language in each state's constitution, because they fear it opens the door for other changes that they don't usually support—most notably items on gun rights and reproductive rights. There will be those in the party who claim this isn't true, including Greg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz. But the Republican party's aversion to constitutional amendments that jeopardize their campaign funding from entities like the National Rifle Association is a well-documented fact at this point.
This is not to say all Republicans are against legal sports betting without exception. Many actually favor limited forms of sports betting that aim to restrict the business to inside the state. Texas itself already allows Daily Fantasy Sports to operate within state lines. There is hope that officials might at least favor a sports betting bill that permits on-site gambling at tribal casinos.
Where Does Greg Abbott Stand on Texas Sports Betting?
As it turns out, Greg Abbott is among the Republican party members not entirely opposed to sports betting. Less than two weeks before the November primaries, in fact, he said that he'd consider pushing for the expansion of casino gambling to include sports betting if he was re-elected, according to the Houston Chronicle.
This is good news at its core for Texas sports bettors. But it doesn't mean much for the future of Texas online sports betting. Allowing on-site wagering would limit Texans to placing bets in-person. That becomes problematic if they don't live near one of the state's tribal casinos.
And that brings up another issue: The expansion of casino gambling will take time, because it includes the actual expansion of casinos. The state has generally opposed the present of commercial casinos and only has three on-site gaming establishments set up at the moment. Even if Greg Abbott commits to implementing in-person sports betting, it will still be years before it's more widely available throughout the state.
Oh, and this says nothing of the waiting period for approval. The next round of Texas legislation meetings won't take place until 2023. That means the soonest legal casino sports betting can roll out is likely sometime in 2024, if not 2025. From there, if you factor in the construction of additional gaming establishments, Texas on-site sports betting won't look materially different until 2026 or 2027.
Knowing this timeline, Texans must still be aware of their contingencies. They can travel to one of the neighboring states—such as New Mexico—that offer legal sports betting. Or they can sign up with one of the sites from our reviews of the top online sportsbooks. Most of these reputable linemakers will let Texans create and service an account without any issues.
The Future of Sports Betting in Texas Remains Hazy
While we don't mean to be the bearer of more bad news, we feel compelled to reiterate that nothing is guaranteed for Texas sports betting.
Legal online sports gambling is already years away—at best. The state is so opposed to changing their stance that Texas is exploring ways to crack down on offshore sports betting.
We don't recommend clinging to Abbott's purported interest in on-site sports betting, either. His endorsement was lukewarm and far from an ironclad guarantee. There's a chance his half-baked support was actually campaign-season posturing.
Overall, our read on the situation is that the re-election of Greg Abbott means Texas sports betting will remain on the same timeline as before: a completely undefined one.
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