Is Sports Betting Legal In Texas?

Written By Griffin Adams on August 18, 2022 - Last Updated on September 9, 2022

For the last few years, legalized sports betting has swept the nation, and Texans have watched from outside the fence. Their neighbors–Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Colorado–have all legalized some form of gambling or sports betting. Pro teams in Texas have also begun to partner with sports betting operators.

These facts may lead the roughly 30 million Texas residents interested in sports betting to ask a simple question: can one legally bet within state lines?

The simple answer is “no.”

However, as the 2022 NFL Season kicks off, the Sports Betting Alliance, a collection of nearly all major pro sports teams in the state along with major sports betting operators, have emphasized that this answer is unacceptable.

The fact is many Texans already bet on sports. As many as 2 million bets a year are placed in Texas, bringing in a total handle of over $8 billion. They’re all made offshore, which is to say illegally. So, none of the money spent on sports betting by Texans actually serves Texas. It serves offshore sportsbooks. It leaves the state and is gone forever.

Let’s get into why this happens. Let’s explore Texas sports betting to better understand where it sits relative to its counterparts.

Is Texas sports betting legal?

Again, no. Although it’s not for a lack of trying.

There have been many, most recently State Sen. Carol Alvarado, fighting for the legalization of gambling and sports betting in Texas. However, Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, both of whom are up for re-election this year, strongly oppose it. Patrick has gone as far as saying gambling legislation will never “see the light of day.”

This type of rhetoric has discouraged some lawmakers in the state from even attempting to fight for legalization. Many fear that even if there was enough support in the legislature that the governor would simply veto anything that gains steam. All of this despite most Texans being in favor of legalizing both casino gambling and sports betting.

However, while not sports betting, there is one avenue interested gamblers in Texas can take. That’s the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino Hotel. Owned and operated by the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, this Eagle Pass establishment offers slots, poker and bingo.

Are daily fantasy sports legal in Texas?

In states where online sports betting (and in Texas’ case, sports betting at all) isn’t available, daily fantasy sports (DFS) is typically a popular option. This is also the case in the Longhorn State, however, it’s not without incident.

Attorney General Ken Paxton said in 2016 that DFS contests are gambling under state law. This would make the act illegal. DraftKings followed by filing a lawsuit, which is still ongoing. And while DFS is not explicitly legal in the state at this time, there’s also no law prohibiting it.

Because of this, companies such as DraftKings or FanDuel operate, albeit in a grey area. But if lawmakers in the state regulate the DFS market quickly, it could generate up to $50 million a year in fantasy revenue.

Will 2023 be the year for legal TX sports betting?

After failing to make any leeway in 2021 and with the Texas Legislature only meeting in odd years, 2023 could be a pivotal year. There’s a glimmer of hope that casinos and sports betting will, at the very least, be addressed in the near future.

Depending on how the governor’s race shakes out between Abbott and Democratic opponent Beto O’Rourke, who is in favor of legalizing both casinos and sports betting, in November, we could see movement in the Longhorn State next year. O’Rourke argues that legalizing both would only bring in revenue for key issues within the state – property taxes and health care.

“If we were to make legal casino gambling and sports betting in the State of Texas we would be able to bring in billions of dollars,” O’Rourke told reporters in April.

The incumbent Abbott, however, is heavily favored to hold on to his position this November.

Alvarez has led the charge in attempting to get Senate Joint Resolution 49, potentially the best proposal to legalize gambling in the state, to a vote. In an interview with PlayTexas earlier this year, she said while the framework has “more Republican support,” whether or not gambling and sports betting will be legalized in 2023 is “hard to say.”

Teams still dipping into sports betting world

Despite sports betting being illegal in Texas, multiple professional teams in the state have still capitalized.

The Houston Astros signed a deal with BetMGM in May that would make it their exclusive sports betting partner. And while there won’t be any physical sportsbooks at Minute Maid Park, BetMGM signage can be seen throughout. BetMGM and the Astros also offer promotions for customers in nearby Louisiana.

Additionally, Houston Dynamo FC of MLS signed a deal with Fubo Gaming in January. Before that even, Austin FC agreed to an exclusive partnership with PointsBet.

With a plethora of other teams left in the state, including prominent college brands in the University of Texas and Texas A&M University, to name a few, it’s safe to assume these won’t be the last sports betting deals struck in the Longhorn State, no matter how long it takes the state legislature to legalize.

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Griffin Adams

Griffin Adams is a staff writer/editor for the Play Network of Sites, where he provides coverage and analysis in the gambling, sports betting and gaming space. Previously, his work could be found in The Athletic, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and MLB.com.

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