If you're a sports fan in Texas, you have no doubt heard of Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale.
As the owner and operator of the Gallery Furniture retail chain, a popular store throughout The Lone Star State and specifically Houston, he is known for placing extravagant wagers to cover potential losses on lucrative promotions he offers around tent-pole sporting events. He has become sort of a social media phenomenon over the past few years, someone celebrated for his massive wins and even for his gargantuan losses.
Most recently, Mattress Mack placed a $2 million bet on the Houston Astros to win the 2022 MLB World Series ahead of the All-Star break. Perhaps you're wondering how he does this when sports betting in Texas isn't yet legal. Well, the answer is no secret. Mattress Mack places wagers with odds providers from other states and has been very open about his use of offshore sportsbooks in the past.
Fittingly enough, Mattress Mack represents both the problem and potential solution facing The Lone Star State. Texas has so far refused to legalize sports gambling, yet they have millions—even billions–of dollars in potential revenue walking out the door each year because of people like McIngvale, who either bet on sports in other states or overseas.
Speaking at the recent Sports Betting Conference Summit in North America, Mattress Mack was asked about and addressed this very issue. Those who support legal sports betting in Texas will love what he had to say. Because, above all, Mattress Mack believes it will be people like him who drive Texas to approve online sports betting.
Mattress Mack Has Clout in Texas Sports Betting Discussion
"Mattress Mack places tens of millions of dollars in bets every year? So what? Why should we care what a 71-year-old retail chain owner and operator has to say about legal sports betting in the United States?"
Many will be having thoughts along these lines. We get the skepticism. But Mattress Mack is a powerhouse sports bettor with political connections all throughout the state of Texas. He is uniquely plugged into The Lone Star State's inner workings and thought process. If he says Texas will be driven to legalize sports betting, it makes sense to believe him. And, well, that's exactly what he said.
“I think those days are gone, that we need to have legal bookmakers that are part of the community, that supply jobs for Texans and for Americans,” Mattress Mack explained to a crowd of SBC attendees, per ESPN. “One of the big things for me is I want to bet onshore, I don’t want to bet offshore. Open up those limits so I can bet onshore and bet a lot.”
Mattress Mack went on to predict that Texas will green light sports betting at some point within the next five years. That may not seem like such a bold prediction. So many other states have already made the transition—30, to be exact. Why wouldn't Texas invariably join the fold when they stand to take in billions of dollars in gambling revenue each year, according to multiple experts throughout the field?
Mattress Mack Hints at What Legal Sports Betting in Texas Could Look Like
Something else to consider is the language Mattress Mack used to address the timeline for sports betting in Texas. It was very deliberate.
In particular, the way he specifically mentioned "offshore betting" affirms that Texas is grappling over the same sports gambling dilemmas holding up other states. That issue? Whether to allow online sports betting at all.
It has become popular among holdout states—including a huge market like California—to propose sports betting legislation that calls only for in-person sports betting at tribal casinos. These initiatives are an attempt to maximize the amount of business that stays in the state. Opponents of online sports betting argue that commercial online operators only pay their licensing and tax fees without creating jobs or tourist attractions within specific states.
There is data to back up this sentiment. More than 80 percent of legal sports betting in the United States last year took place online, according to Casino.org. This says nothing of the offshore wagers placed, either. So, by indulging online operators, states are to some extent ensuring they funnel money outside the region.
And yet, what's the alternative? People in Texas are already placing bets online, either in other states or with offshore sportsbooks. Mattress Mack is the perfect example. At least if Texas legalizes sports betting they can force online retailers to partner up with tribal casinos to capitalize on some of that internet revenue. Doing nothing merely ensures the state encourages residents to seek out alternatives for what is, right now, the most popular form of sports betting.
Timeline for Legal Sports Betting in Texas
This logic is spot-on...in theory. But Texas recently voted down the implementation of commercial casinos throughout the state, suggesting that they aren't as open-minded to to sports betting as many believe. Commercial casinos, after all, are borderline imperative if you want to set up an online gambling infrastructure. They have a strong, entrenched digital presence, whereas tribal casinos are typically only operating in brick-and-mortar capacities.
Texas' latest ruling, then, has many wondering whether they might once again shoot down sports betting proposals when the state's next batch of legislative sessions take place in 2023. And for the record, that's the soonest government officials figure to re-address the issue.
If a start date of 2023 or 2024 is too long of a wait for you, we'd recommend taking a look at our reviews of the top online sportsbooks, which include a bunch of sites that allow Texans to register for a betting account. Mattress Mack seems resigned to the approval process taking at least this long—if not longer. That means you might as well be prepared for it to take that long, too.
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:
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