How serious are sports betting sites about finally cracking the Texas market? So serious, a group of them are starting to work together.
The Texas Sports Betting Alliance is a unique coalition of sites that have teamed up to advocate for sports betting in Texas. The group is made up of such heavyweights as DraftKings and even includes professional sports franchises like the Dallas Cowboys. In fact, they have so many major players under their umbrella, many remain shocked that the push for legal Texas sports betting hasn't already churned out a major victory.
Members of the Texas Sports Betting Alliance are hoping the streak of losses will end in 2023. The Lone Star State has punted on the chance to legalize sports betting numerous times in the past, but optimism is growing ahead of the 2023 legislation sessions. And the root cause of that optimism is the Texas Sports Betting Alliance. They have tripled-down on their efforts to bring legal sports betting to one of the three largest markets in the United States.
As always, we have to ask: Will they be successful? And what exactly are they doing to ensure Texas sports betting isn't shot down once again.
What are Sports Betting Sites Doing to Push the Legalization Agenda in Texas?
The prevailing theme behind this latest push from sports betting sites can be characterized as aggressive offense. In the past, they have tried toeing the line of legal sports betting. They proposed more restrictive, on-site-heavy forms of legal gambling that didn't quite fit within their business model. The hope was that this approach would establish a middle ground between their interests and government officials who are leery of licensing out-of-state sportsbooks to operate in their territory.
Attempting to please everyone wound up not panning out. So, this time around, the Texas Sports Betting Alliance isn't trying to disguise or redress their proposal. They have decided to advocate for legal online sports betting in full.
This has entailed proposing new legislation that'll be ready for the meetings next year in 2023. But it has also included laying the groundwork for a working relationship within the state. You might have noticed an uptick in partnerships between pro sports franchises in Texas and retail sportsbooks over the past year—even though wagering isn't legal inside the state. This wasn't by accident. As Covers.com wrote at the start of December:
"Even so, online sportsbook operators have been striking partnerships in the state to get their brands recognized in the event of any sports-betting launch. BetMGM, for example, announced in May that it was the exclusive sports-betting partner of the Houston Astros. The interest in Texas is because it is one of the crown jewels of U.S. state markets for operators, as it has the second-largest population, behind California and ahead of Florida, two states which also lack legal sports betting. If the state ever were to permit event wagering, it would likely be a high priority for many operators, depending on what betting channels are approved."
Striking partnerships in Texas essentially serves two purposes for sports betting sites. First, it proves to state officials just how much money they're prepared to invest in the market. Second, and most importantly for them, it gives them a foot in the door if and when Texas legalizes sports betting and begins the process of handing out licenses.
Will Sports Betting Sites Successfully Bring Legal Gambling to Texas?
While the current sentiments coming out of the Texas Sports Betting Alliance are overwhelmingly positive, we must not get caught up in the premature hype. This group of sports betting sites already thought they convinced Texas to legalize gambling on football for 2023. That optimism turned out to be misplaced. This latest approach could be, too.
Still, something admittedly feels differently about this push for Texas legal sports betting. Seeing sportsbooks broker long-term partnerships with teams in a market they can actually operate in was a big-picture commitment. And the presence of these sportsbooks' logos inside venues gives Texas insight into just how much they stand to make.
Equally important: It also reminds the state how much money it's actively losing without sports betting. Texans are already placing wagers in neighboring states with legal gambling, and online wagering is available to them through most of the reputable websites that appear in our reviews of the top online sportsbooks.
Spreading this much awareness can only be seen as a good thing. But as we know all too well, nothing is guaranteed
If Not in 2023, Then When?
We of course need to tackle the worst-case scenario: What if the coalition of sports betting sites pushing for legal gambling in Texas are unsuccessful?
It's not outside the realm of plausibility. Sports betting in California was considered a formality entering the 2022 elections. In the end, though, both of their legal gambling bills failed to garner the popular vote. Texas' current stance is deemed more split than it was in California. There is absolutely a chance that the next sports betting bill fails to make it through the House of Representatives and Senate.
And if that happens, well, get ready for a longer wait. Texas legislative meetings are only held in odd-numbered years. This means that the next time sports betting could be addressed is in 2025. And from there, assuming it passes, the state would still need a year or more to complete the rollout.
Basically, then, if you support legal sports betting coming to Texas, you should be crossing fingers for this next push to be the one that gets the state over the hump.
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