A million different factors could ultimately end up deciding the battle for sports betting in Texas. The 2022 elections will undoubtedly play a role. So, too, will the state's feelings toward online gambling vs. on-site betting. Federally recognized tribes, which currently own all gaming rights, must be considered, too. But if you ask the Texas Sports Betting Alliance, they believe the Lone Star State should legalize sports gambling in 2023 simply because football wagering alone is worth a boatload of money.
To many, this will seem like an oversimplified ploy. And to be fair, that wouldn't be out of character. The Texas Sports Betting Alliance has tried before to instill urgency in the state to legalize gambling by 2023. Those most recent efforts focused on the overall revenue Texas stood to gain. This time around, they're zeroing in on football betting specifically.
But why? What could this realistically accomplish, if anything? And does this latest push from the Texas Sports Betting Alliance suggest that there's a hidden factor looming over the Lone Star State as they prepare for the next round of legislative meetings in 2023?
Let's unpack the latest legal Texas sports betting news together.
Texas Sports Betting Alliance Believes Football is the Key to Gambling Legalization
If you thought the Texas Sports Betting Alliance might be above playing what amounts to the "football is life" card, well, you were wrong.
“The state should allow Texans the freedom to decide whether or not to participate in sports betting and protect those who do so,” Texas Sports Betting Alliance Spokesperson Cara Gustafson recently said in a release. “Football will continue to dominate the Lone Star State and sports betting will only grow along with it. It’s time to honor Texas’ core value of individual freedom and legalize sports betting.”
Maybe you cringed at the attempt to equate football with patriotism, civic duty, overall humanity, etc. That's understandable. But the meat and potatoes of Gustafson's statement rings true. Football is the most popular sport in Texas. That's not really a surprise, because football is the most popular North American sport, period. But football is basically religion in Texas. They not only worship NFL franchises like the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans, but they have college football powerhouses such as Texas A&M and the University of Texas. The state even has flagship high school football programs that are popular enough to fill entire stadiums with fans.
That level of popularity can't be built. And the Texas Sports Betting Alliance understands how financially lucrative legal football betting in Texas can wind up becoming. A survey conducted in September by the American Gaming Association estimated that 46.6 million Americans planned to bet on the NFL or bet on college football this season. Given that Texas represents one of the three largest sports markets in the country, there's no telling how much money football gambling alone could generate.
Texas Losing Out on Plenty of Football Betting Already Taking Place
Of course, playing up the financial benefits of sports betting is nothing new. The Texas Sports Betting Alliance, along with many others, has gone that route before. But in her release, Gustafson has also tweaked the approach to point out how much sports betting is already taking place in Texas.
If 46.6 million Americans plan to bet on football this season, that's more than 14 percent of the entire population. Do you really think none of those bettors will hail from Texas? Not only can Texans journey across state lines to place wagers, but many of the sites that appear in our reviews of the top online sportsbooks will allow people from the region to create accounts and begin processing bet slips immediately.
In fact, rough estimates have Texans placing more than $1 billion in out-of-state bets per year at the moment. And it stands to reason a huge chunk of that money, if not the actual majority of it, is wagered on football.
Sports betting enthusiasts and financial mavens alike will wonder why Texas hasn't just taken the plunge. They're not preventing sports betting. Why not just board the football betting wagon? Some believe it'll take a shift in which party controls the local government. Others believe legal sports betting in Texas is inevitable. But a new wrinkle has just made a cameo on the subject.
California Gambling Bills May Be Driving Texas Sports Betting Alliance to Act
California has two sports betting bills on their November ballot and was widely considered a lock to approve one of them. But the tenor among voters has shifted in recent months. And now, a recent poll conducted by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies and the Los Angeles Times predicts that both initiatives will flop. That, in turn, would prevent California from legalizing sports betting until 204.
By extension, the failure of sports betting bills in California could embolden the Texas government to continue tabling sports betting—particularly if the republican party retains control in November.
That all but explains why the Texas Sports Betting Alliance is acting now. They sense that they can no longer count on California to leave Texas as the lone big market without sports betting. And so, they're redoubling their efforts to spin the benefit of legal gambling in Texas.
Will these efforts be successful? We'll find out sometime over the next year.
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