The need for a domestic sports betting framework in Texas is becoming increasingly obvious, especially as neighboring states publish reports of multi-million-dollar revenues and bolster local economies.
Texans Bet Everywhere But Texas
Yesterday, lawmakers were dealt a brutal wake-up call when reports broke that a Houston-based entrepreneur dubbed “Mattress Mack” had bet a record-breaking $4.5 million on the Cincinnati Bengals to win the Super Bowl.
The kicker? Mattress Mack drove more than 3 hours to Louisiana to do it.
Texans spend more than $5 billion per year on offshore sportsbooks. And many would willingly divert their wagers to in-state if such a gambling law were to be passed.
But for over a decade, lawmakers have been steadfast in their refusal to expand the gambling infrastructure in the Lone Star state. Several of the state’s most important representatives have cited moral and fiscal reservations on the subject of both in-person and 18+ mobile gambling.
Lobbyist Rally Against Legal Betting
One of the state’s top lobbyists, Rob Kohler, has been the primary voice of dissent for Texas gambling. The representative, primarily serving the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, said the following about the matter:
“We don’t think that having this type of activity on the phones sends a good message to our youth. When the lights come on and the people that are elected come into Austin, and they really vet it for whether the state needs to be in that business – it’s something that ought to stay in Vegas.”
Unfortunately for Texas bettors, this is the message that stuck—at least for state legislators. In 2021, twelve different bills related to sports betting were killed and/or left to rot by the end of the session.
Still, it has become difficult for lawmakers to abate the consequences of underfunded school districts and public health services. In the 30 states that have already implemented legal betting, revenue returns have supplemented local communities.
Next Steps For Legal Betting In Texas
Because the addition of legal sports betting requires a constitutional amendment, voters have no say on the issue until a bill is cleared by the House and Senate.
Nonetheless, representatives in favor of betting in Texas are readying their arms for the upcoming session. With over 20 million potential patrons and up to $500 million in total annual revenues on the table, the stakes are high for all involved.
Many are hopeful that the success seen in other U.S. gambling states will propel legislation forward for possible authorization this year.
Still, with the Super Bowl in just two days, the state has already foregone profits from the most popular sports event of the year.
Texas lawmakers may have decided to sit on the sidelines this NFL season but bettors don’t have to! Texans who don’t want to travel out of state for Super Bowl betting can still place wagers directly from their iPhone or Android devices via offshore sportsbooks.
Source: ABC 13