DraftKings CEO Believes Texas Sports Betting Has ‘A Real Shot’ At Being Legalized

Written By Phil West on May 7, 2024 - Last Updated on May 8, 2024
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DraftKings CEO Jason Robins, speaking on the quarterly earnings call for DraftKings last week, expressed optimism about the possibility that Texas will legalize sports betting when it gets the next opportunity to do so, in 2025.

The call featured news of $1.175 billion in revenue for the company, representing a 53% year-over-year increase from the first quarter of 2023, plus successful sportsbook launches in Vermont and North Carolina, and an increase in unique users on the DraftKings platform to 7.5 million, compared to 6 million just a year ago.

Robins Optimistic On Texas In 2025, But That Could Be Wishful Thinking

Asked about Texas sports betting during the question-and-answer part of the earnings call, Robins said,

“I think the big focus will be on Texas. Texas, I think, has a real shot. It got through one chamber last year, and as you may know, the Texas legislature doesn’t meet in 2024. So we’re really gearing up for 2025.”

Sports betting legislation passed the House chamber in 2023, though it didn’t progress through the Senate. If Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is still in office in 2025, which is highly likely, sports betting faces an extremely difficult pathway to legalization. As the leader of the Texas Senate, Patrick controls the legislative agenda. He assigns lawmakers to committees and determines which bills will land in which committees. During Patrick’s tenure in office, sports betting has never received a committee hearing, much less made it to floor debate.

Though the legislative landscape doesn’t look to be changing in regard to sports betting and could indeed be worsening pending some runoff elections later this month, lobbying efforts are underway to transform the calculus.

Most notably, Las Vegas Sands Corp., directly involved in Texas sports via Miriam Adelson and Patrick Dumont’s ownership stakes in the Dallas Mavericks, injected nearly $2 million into Texas House races this primary season, including $200,000 to help House Speaker Dade Phelan fend off a challenge from anti-gambling candidate David Covey.

The Vegas casino magnates are also behind a statewide lobbying effort through the newly formed Texas Destination Resort Alliance, which is collecting signatures to help reinforce polling showing that most Texans support legalizing sports betting.

DraftKings Expects Movement From More States To Legalize Sports Betting Next Year

Robins said of the overall national movement to embrace sports betting,

“You know, obviously, having gotten up and running in 50% of the country population wise, [and] also roughly 50% of states in only a little over five years, is fast. And so I think naturally, you’re gonna see a little bit of a slowdown on the sports side. Also, when you consider the fact a little less than half of the remaining population resides in three states, that’ll kind of give you a sense of where the focus is. There’s a lot of states left, for sure, but you know, there’s only a handful of really big ones, and when you kind of extend beyond the top three into five, six, seven states, you’re going to capture a lot of that [market]. So, obviously, we made a push in Georgia this year. It came up a little short, and in several other states as well. I do think you’ll see a couple bills done later in the year on [online sports betting].”

States with some momentum toward legalizing sports betting include Minnesota, where a bill still may get the bipartisan support it’ll need for passage, and Missouri, which could secure online sports betting through a ballot initiative in the wake of legislative efforts that appear to be falling short.

While Georgia came up short again, it appears to be nearing the finish line. Texas and California, the two white whales still out there for sportsbook operators, are not in the same category, and while operators will certainly do all they can to get Texas across the finish line, they’re playing a long game and would be wise to conserve their energy.

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Phil West

Phil West is a longtime journalist based in Austin, Texas, whose bylines have appeared in The Daily Dot, Nautilus, Pro Soccer USA, Howler, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Chronicle. He has also written two books about soccer.

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