Though more than half of the United States has now legalized some form of sports betting, Texas continues to rank among the most prominent holdouts. And while their stance on sports betting isn't breaking news, the money it's costing them each month absolutely is worth discussing. In fact, the conversation is arguably never more relevant than it is right now, as we're entrenched in a 2022 March Madness tournament that could've generated millions in revenue for The Lone Star State.
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Tens of millions of Americans are currently engaging in legal sports betting on the 2022 March Madness tournament. And yet, among those tens of millions of people legally partaking in online college basketball betting, none of them will come from The Lone Star State.
As almost everyone knows by now, there is no legal sports betting in Texas entering the spring of 2022. And that officially puts them in the minority. Thirty-two of the 50 states in the U.S., as well as the District of Columbia, have legalized sports betting in some form. More than half of those places allow bets to be placed online.
Since the wave of legalized sports betting started in 2018, however, Texas has refused to join the fold. And no one quite knows when—or even if—that will change.
But here's what we do know now: Texas is missing out on millions upon millions of dollars in sports betting revenue during the 2022 March Madness tournament—and beyond.
Texas is Leaving Nine Figures of Money on the Table without Legal Sports Betting
More than 45 billion Americans will place roughly $1.3 billion in bets during the 2022 March Madness bracket, according to a study done by the American Gaming Association. That is some serious coin.
Of course, exactly zero cents of all that money wagered will be going to Texas. Without legal sports betting, they're unable to profit off bettors who are placing wagers anyway. (More on this in a second.)
This isn't just about 2022 March Madness betting, either. Texas is missing out on truckloads of money over the course of an entire year.
Not only are they one of the three heaviest populated states in the country, but they boast one of the most popular professional sports markets, with nationally recognized teams such as the Dallas Cowboys (NFL), Dallas Mavericks (NBA), Texas Rangers (MLB), Houston Astros (MLB) and Dallas Stars (NHL). And this says nothing of their booming college sports markets. They have flagship programs in both football and basketball. The University of Texas, in fact, is still alive in the 2022 March Madness tournament.
Add that all up, and, well, you get one massive missed opportunity. According to the senior director of research at the American Gaming Association, Dave Forman, Texas' sports market is worth at least $1.2 billion in annual betting revenue.
Texas Continues to Ignore Earning Potential of Legal Sports Betting
Despite the incredible sums of money that could be headed the state government's way, Texas continues to ignore or outright oppose the implementation of legal sports betting. To say sports betting isn't even a priority on the agenda would actually be an understatement.
Texas has not tried introducing any pro-sports-betting legislature since 2019, with H.B. 1975. That measure was roundly opposed, and the overarching sentiments haven't changed since.
This is the battle conservative states such as Texas face. Their political leanings tend to dissuade any major changes, particularly when it comes to harder-to-monitor online operations.
Which isn't to say people in Texas have given up hope. On the contrary, lobbyists are spending millions to try legalizing sports betting in Texas. The hope among betting enthusiasts is the local government can be swayed by the potential revenue they stand to glean.
Texas SHOULD Legalize Sports Betting, But Will They?
Whether the lobbyists will be successful in shifting Texas' stance on legal sports betting remains to be seen. And it will be a while before that changes. The soonest Texas can green light sports betting throughout the state is in the middle of 2023.
There's little point guessing whether that happens so far in advance. But opponents of sports betting need to stop pretending as if they're actually preventing wagers. People in Texas can still bankroll accounts with one of the top sportsbooks from our online reviews, and there are many more people who continue to use illegal bookies.
As Forman said, per the Beaumont Enterprise: “Texans are certainly gambling today—they’re just doing so with illegal, offshore operators or bookies who have no regulatory oversight, skip out on taxes, and do not offer any protections for the consumer, wagers, or game."
If huge amounts of sports bets are going to be placed anyway, Texas might as well ensure they get a chunk of the financial action. All they have succeeded in doing, so far, is costing themselves hundreds of millions in potential tax revenue, a void that looks and feels exponentially bigger during popular betting events such as March Madness and the Super Bowl.
With that being said, dollars and cents tend to win out in these situations. Our guess is Texas remedies their sports-betting stance in 2023—particularly as unofficial polls continue to show that more than 40 percent of Texans would approve such a measure.
Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can figure out which one to use for all of your sports betting needs: