Sportsbooks and teams renew push to legalize gambling in Texas

December 15, 2022 Texas State Flag - Casino Genie

There is a concept in business and investment which refers to certain people and companies as “whales”. These individuals and bodies are, as the term implies, so huge and influential that when they speak, it is impossible not to hear them. So the potential for sports betting in Texas – which has often been considered to be minimal due to the general conservatism of political decision-making in the state – has taken a step forward with a renewed alliance of the nation’s biggest sportsbooks and the state’s sports teams in support of legal sports betting.

The Texas Sports Betting Alliance is an amalgamation of representatives from bodies such as the above, and includes names from sportsbooks such as DraftKings along with those from the Dallas Cowboys. Given the enormous popularity of the Cowboys among state residents, it’s no exaggeration to say that their name being attached to the Alliance may be enough to change some minds within the state. People who would previously have been opposed to sports betting becoming legal, and would even have voted against it in a referendum, may well be swayed by the involvement of their sporting heroes.

A previous bill was filed in the Texas House of Representatives in 2021, and was not able to pass, and with the House sitting again in 2023 (Texas’ legislature works in an often confusing way which sees the different chambers sitting in alternate years), the TSBA is working with representatives on a draft bill that they intend to have ready for the first day of sitting, which would be January 10. With the combined financial and legal muscle that can be called upon by national sportsbooks and Texas-based professional sports teams, there could well be a path to presenting legislation that could gain acceptance in congress.

This is by no means an open and shut case for backers of sports betting. Texas is a glittering prize for sportsbook operators, and the fact that it is one that has been left unclaimed this far indicates that there is a very complicated path to passing any legislation aimed at legalizing betting. As the second-largest state in the union by population behind California, of course sportsbooks will be keen to unlock the potential market for betting in the Lone Star state. However, the way that state Congress works means that it is hard to pass anything quickly, and the time involved in reconciling competing arguments means that it’s even harder to pass anything controversial.

So what we see unfolding in Texas in 2023 might very well be the ultimate example of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object. While the whales of the Texas Sports Betting Alliance are very keen to make betting happen, they are up against the generally conservative mindset and slow pace of change in the state. The outcome of this contest probably won’t come with a flash or a bang, but the TSBA hope it will work out in the long term.

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