Proponents of legal sports betting throughout Texas were treated to some good news in the week following their November elections: Another Texas legal sports betting bill was filed for consideration in advance of the state's 2023 legislative sessions.
Was this expected news? Yes. But it's still a big deal. It ensures Texas legal sports betting will be on the legislative docket. Equally important, this latest measure was filed more than two months before the sessions actually started. While we can't officially glean the exact intent from the timing, it at least seems like sports betting is top of mind for government officials.
Whether this latest Texas sports betting bill successfully passes is a different story. The last few proposals have gained some traction among the local government but never made it close to an election ballot. There are those within the sports betting community who believe this time will be no different.
Maybe they're right. They could also be wrong. We won't know for sure until sometime in 2023. For now, it behooves us to parse the details of the newest initiative to see what it's all about.
Details of 2023 Texas Legal Sports Betting Bill
Not surprisingly, the terms of the 2023 Texas sports betting bill are currently scarce. The 2022 major elections only just wrapped up, and the initiative was only just filed. However, the Senator responsible for pitching this proposal, Carol Alvarado out of District 6, did release some details. Below you can see everything we know about the latest Texas sports betting initiative that will be debated during the 2023 legislative sessions:
- If the bill goes through, table gaming and slots would be legal in the state, as well.
- Senator Alvarado’s bill sets a 10 percent tax rate on gross gaming revenue for table games.
- The bill also institutes a 25 percent tax rate on gross gaming revenue for slot machines.
And that's it.
This isn't a whole lot to go on for the moment. The public details don't even address a sports betting tax specifically. Most assume it will check in around 10 percent, but that's just a hunch.
Questions the 2023 Texas Legal Sports Betting Bill Still Needs to Answer
With this in mind, let's have a look at all the most important questions facing Senator Alvarado's sports betting bill.
What is the Proposed Sports Betting Tax in Texas?
As we already mentioned, people assume it will come in at 10 percent. Most states have used that number or something close to it. The last Texas sports betting bill also called for a 10 percent tax on all sports betting revenue.
Still, there's a chance Alvarado's bill comes in a little bit higher. This initiative needs bi-partisan support, and while she is a Democrat, the democratic party blanched at the 10 percent tax last time around.
Will Online Sports Betting be Legal in Texas?
This is the potentially multi-billion question.
The vast majority of legal sports bets are placed online nowadays. However, Texas lawmakers have historically favored on-site betting legislature over online policies. They're not alone, either. Many states think only legalizing on-site betting will prevent gambling revenue from leaving their grips. They're technically not wrong. Most retail online sportsbooks don't have massive physical presences in the states in which they operate. They pay their taxes and then take their profits elsewhere; they don't create jobs or directly funnel a bunch of money back into the local economy.
Of course, this line of thinking isn't without flaws. Continuing to prohibit online sports betting in Texas won't actually stop it. Right this second, Texans could head over to our reviews of the top online sportsbooks and sign up for an account at any one of those sites. As it stands, the off-shore betting market is supposedly worth over $1 billion inside Texas alone. That number may pull back if residents have the option of placing wagers at brick-and-mortar sportsbooks inside casinos, but it won't diminish entirely.
Texas has explored taking action against off-short sports betting, but that's a fool's errand. There is no way to comprehensively police that market. The best thing they could do is offer a domestic alternative. It just isn't clear whether they're prepared to that. They certainly weren't last time around.
Will the Texas Sports Betting Bill Allow for Commercial Casinos?
This has been a hot-button debate throughout the Lone Star State. At present, Texas does not allow commercial casino gambling. That's why there is only one casino operating in the entire state.
Most believe this will change if Texas legalizes sports betting. They have to give residents more options to explore.
Not everyone lives near the singular tribal casino that's up and running. And if Texas wants to combat the online sports betting wave without actually offering online sports betting of their own, they're better off opening their doors to bigger companies willing to construct resort-style hotels and casinos.
It's Still Too Early to Predict the Future of Sports Betting in Texas
While we would like to say Texas is a lock to legalize sports betting, we know better.
Too many lawmakers have shown resistance to the idea in the past, and the House of Representatives needs two-thirds of its members to vote in favor of the newest bill. Multiple polls have shown constituents want some form of sports betting, but that was also the case in California. And both of their sports betting ballot measures just failed.
Will Texas learn from California's mistake of having two separate sports betting bills? Or will lawmakers see what happened in California as the impetus to continue blocking sports betting in Texas?
We'll have a better idea in the coming months.
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