In a video clip on the Sports Betting Alliance website, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry says he endorses mobile sports betting as a way to combat illegal offshore betting sites.
Alvarado refiles casino legislation
Sports wagering, including mobile sports betting, is prohibited in Texas. Every effort to legalize sports betting has failed in the Texas Legislature.
Perry’s endorsement comes two days after Sen. Carol Alvarado refiled her casino-focused legislation (which also broadly references legalizing sports betting). Perry joins current Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in showing support for an expansion of legal gambling in Texas.
Perry hammers illegal offshore scammers
Perry invoked statistics indicating that Texans will currently place more than $8 billion in bets with offshore sites this year. He referred to these sites as run by “unscrupulous offshore bookies” who “scam consumers.”
The offshore market, which many Texans frequent – some without realizing the sites are illegal – has no regulatory body. This means there’s no assurance that consumers will get paid out correctly or personal information will be kept secure.
Perry emphasized that regulating the sports betting market in Texas would allow money already spent on sports betting “to benefit Texans.”
Texas is falling behind, Perry says
The Sports Betting Alliance, which has pushed for legalization of sports betting since the 2021 legislative session, has the support of all 11 professional sports teams in the state. Perry noted this and added that “Texas continues to fall behind as 35 other states have already legalized [sports betting].”
Not only that, Texas’ neighbors, Louisiana and New Mexico, have both legalized some form of sports betting and are currently “cashing in on Texans’ bets” with none of that money benefiting Texans.
While this argument holds pragmatic weight, it cuts both ways. Many Texans see this holdout as ideologically driven and feel content in standing alone among their neighbors.
Perry invokes Texan ideals to connect with base
To address the more socially-conservative, anti-gaming members of Perry’s own Republican Party, Perry argued that legalizing online sports betting would “uphold the state’s guiding principles” and “give Texans a voice.”
Perry later referenced “individual freedoms” and the notion that Texas has always been an “economic powerhouse” to further that stance.
Indeed, his stance on sports betting represents the strongest endorsement of any current or past Texas political figure to date. Whether Perry’s name still holds enough currency with Texas lawmakers to move the needle is yet to be seen. His endorsement, though, will likely begin a stream of similar endorsements from high-profile Texans in favor of sports betting.
Less than two months before Legislature convenes
On Jan. 10, the Texas Legislature will convene. Before that, both Maryland and Ohio will have launched online sports betting, and Massachusetts will be on the verge. Eyes will be squarely on Texas as the next – and most significant – state to expand legal gambling.
Unlike 2021, when COVID and the winter storm shouldered legal gambling legislation to the margin, in 2023, it will get plenty of attention.