No one quite knows for sure when—or even if—we'll see legal sports betting in Texas. The state, as it stands, failed to pass an initiative that would have landed a sports betting bill on the November 2022 ballot, which means nothing figures to change until the end of 2023, if not 2024, at the absolute earliest.
And yet, even as Texas resists the uptick of legal sports betting throughout the USA, evidence continues to mount that they'll be convinced, or perhaps forced, to reevaluate their stance. The latest bit of intel, in fact, might actually be the strongest yet: Though the state has so far taken a hard-line stance against sports gambling, it turns out that Texas residents are placing billions of dollars per year in wagers within states that have legal sports betting.
This figure is staggering. It also may only tell part of the story. Because, after all, other states are not the only places in which Texans are currently taking their sports betting business.
Texans Spend Billions Per Year in Legal Bets
There is no definitive number on how much money Texas loses to neighboring states in potential betting revenue. It's too hard to track in exact terms. However, according to a study conducted by The Dallas Morning News, people from Texas spent over $2.5 billion at out-of-state casinos per year as of 2019.
Shocking still, that number is likely to be higher now. Because The Dallas Morning News could only compile data from a few years ago, this study doesn't accurately reflect the impact of legal sports betting across the country. It was far more popular in 2020 and 2021, respectively. And with 30 states now aboard the legal sports betting bandwagon, it's officially a majority trend for the U.S.
Out-of-state spending on gambling from Texans is further inflated by their proximity to Oklahoma and Louisiana, where casinos are legal. If you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, for example, you're only a 45-minute drive away from Winstar Casino in Oklahoma. That's nothing. And if you live in the Houston area, you're less than two hours away from legal casinos in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Indeed, Texans aren't making these drives on a daily basis. But they are still making them at all. Whether it's for a quick day trip or a long weekend, they are bringing billions of dollars in bets to Oklahoma or Louisiana. Let's also not forget that Texans are only a semi-short flight away from Las Vegas, Nevada, the gambling capital of the United States. Even if it's just one or two trips a year, that amount of money adds up—as that $2.5 billion figure clearly shows.
Texas Likely Losing Even More Money Than Expected to Alternative Sports Betting
What if we told you this is all only the tip of the iceberg? What if we told you Texas was, in fact, missing out on even more gambling revenue than between $2.5 billion and $3 billion every year? Would you believe us?
Well, you should. The figures available to us now only include trackable means of sports betting. They don't include money spent on black market bookies in the state of Texas or sportsbooks operating offshore. The latter is an especially popular wagering mechanism for Texans—and everyone who lives in a state that doesn't have domestic sportsbook access. Right now, there are operators from our list of the top online sportsbooks who will allow people in Texas to set up accounts and place wagers.You better believe there are betting enthusiasts who continue to take advantage of this loophole.
This is why so many don't understand the state's reluctance, to date, when it comes to the legalization of sports gambling. It's already happening, not just in other states, but within Texas itself. Any moral high ground officials think they're assuming by fending off the legalization of sports betting is all a facade. Their hesitance does not amount to prohibitive; it is merely an obstacle Texans, as the data proves, are more than willing to work around.
How Much Sports Betting Revenue is Texas Leaving on the Table?
It's tough to say just how much business Texas punts on by not having legal sports betting and casino gambling. We know it's in the billions of dollars each year. But the actual figure may even blow us away, inasmuch as we ever get the chance to see it in action.
Remember: Texas boasts the second largest population in the United States, behind only California. We haven't seen a state with so many potential bettors green light gambling in all its forms. Florida, which has the nation's third largest population, repealed sports betting just before the start of 2022. California, meanwhile, won't vote on their latest sports betting initiative(s) until November.
New York is the closest Texas gets to a viable sports-betting comparison, and even that rings a bit hollow. Though New York has the United States' fourth largest population, it's still home to roughly 10 million fewer people overall.
With that said, knowing New York has had months in which they accept anywhere between $1.5 billion and $2 billion in total sports bets, it stands to reason that Texas can blow those numbers out of the water. Combine this with the money we already know Texans are wagering in casinos located inside other states, and we're talking about tens of billions of dollars in business every year. That, in turn, likely means the state is leaving billions of dollars in pure tax-revenue profit on the table by upholding outmoded ideals on sports gambling.
It's no wonder people can't understand why Texas hasn't jumped at the chance to legal sports betting and casino gaming.
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