Multiple Texas sports betting bills have been filed in the 2023 Legislative Session. Some of the biggest supporters of those bills are the owners of Houston’s professional sports franchises.
Houston has five pro sports franchises:
- Houston Rockets (NBA)
- Houston Texans (NFL)
- Houston Astros (MLB)
- Houston Dynamo (MLS)
- Houston Dash (NWSL)
All are members of the Texas Sports Betting Alliance. The goal of the SBA is to legalize Texas sports betting and grant operator licenses to Texas’ pro sports teams. Here are four Houston owners hoping to get this done.
Tilman Fertitta and the Houston Rockets
Tilman Fertitta is no stranger to sports betting and has been among the most active of all the owners. He already has his hands in the gambling market with his ownership stake in several Golden Nugget casinos, including in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which houses a DraftKings Sportsbook.
The partnership with the sportsbook is thanks to a $1.6 billion investment that includes an expansion if Texas legalizes sports betting.
Fertitta’s relationship with the Lake Charles casino has helped him learn how big the desire for gambling is in Texas. In a 2015 interview on The Michael Berry Show, Fertitta revealed, at the time, 85% of his Golden Nugget patrons were from greater Houston.
In the same interview, Fertitta also shared his desire to open a casino in Texas. That is the biggest testament to where he stands on sports betting and gambling in general in Lone Star State.
So, it is no surprise Fertitta spoke up in support of the proposed sports betting bills in Texas. Fertitta shared via the Houston Chronicle:
“Sports betting is a very popular form of entertainment. Sports fans enjoy placing bets on their favorite sports because it brings them closer to the team and puts them in the game. No one wins with an illegal market as robust as the one in Texas, and I applaud Senator (Lois) Kolkhorst and Representative (Jeff) Leach for recognizing the need to address the illegal market in Texas.”
Jim Crane and the Houston Astros
Jim Crane is Houston’s most beloved owner due to the Astros’ recent success.
Although he hasn’t been as adamant about Texas sports betting as Fertitta, he is on board with the state legalizing it. Crane signed a deal with BetMGM in 2022 for the sportsbook to become the exclusive sports betting partner of the Astros.
He also vocalized his support for online sports betting legislation in a Texas SBA press release.
“Rather than having Texans betting illegally through unknown companies in foreign countries,” Crane said, “this bill will allow controls and safeguards for sports betting in Texas while generating significant revenue that will be used to reduce everyone’s property taxes in Texas.”
The McNairs and the Houston Texans
Cal McNair and the Texans make this the trifecta for Houston sports when it comes to supporting sports betting in Texas. With the bills on the books that could potentially legalize it gaining steam, the owners are speaking up, and McNair is no different.
Speaking to the Houston Chronicle about the sports betting bills, McNair said:
“The Houston Texans support giving Texans the opportunity to choose for themselves if they want a regulated and taxed sports betting industry in Texas. We think a legal and regulated betting industry is best for our fans and partners and would protect the integrity of competition.”
Ted Segal and the Houston Dynamo and Dash
Ted Segal took full control of the Houston Dynamo in August 2022 after buying out the remaining minority partners. Since gaining a majority stake in the team, he hasn’t said much publicly about sports betting in Texas.
However, Segal added the Dynamo to the list of supporters in a recent press release from the Texas SBA. Dynamo backs both of the proposed sports betting bills. Dynamo also inked a deal worth at least $178 million with Fubo sportsbook in January of last year. The deal, which fell through with the collapse of Fubo sportsbook, would have included a bonus worth millions if Texas legalized sports betting.
Although not on the record like the other more established owners, Segal and the Dynamo appear to support legalizing sports betting.
Texas sports betting taxes for the state
PlayTexas estimates more than $250 million a year in taxes would be generated for the state if sports betting is made legal. That revenue could be used for a host of issues in Texas. However, property taxes are at the forefront of the pro sports betting argument for many advocates.
As a growing concern for many Texans, using property taxes as a calling card for legalization will go a long way at the ballot box if residents are granted a chance to vote on the bill in November.
With sports owners such as Crane amplifying that message, the pressure could be on legislators to finally allow sports betting in the Lone Star State.