The first sports betting bills have been filed in the Texas Senate this session. Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) is sponsoring SB 715 and SJR 39, which would legalize online sports betting in the state.
Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) is sponsoring companion bills HB 1942 and HJR 102 in the Texas House.
Kolkhorst’s legislation is backed by the Sports Betting Alliance, a group of professional sports franchises, leagues, racetracks and gambling organizations that champion the expansion of legal sports betting in Texas. The longtime state senator has cited security as a top priority of the legislation, and she also wants to see more dollars go to education in the state.
Kolkhorst was a golfer at TCU
According to estimates, millions of dollars are spent by Texans annually betting on sports through illegal, offshore sports betting operators. Polls show that the majority of Texans support legal sports betting. All efforts to add it in the past have failed at the Texas statehouse.
Kolkhorst has an athletic background and a strong understanding of the sports world. She played golf at Texas Christian University. She has been a Texas politician for more than 20 years. The Texas native of Senate District 18 is married to Jim Kolkhorst, and they have two children.
Kolkhorst wants to keep revenue in the state
Kolkhorst wants to stop offshore gambling sites from reaping the benefits of illegal sports betting in Texas.
“Texas needs to bring security and safety into the world of mobile sports betting.”
She also believes legalizing sports wagering would “promote integrity through transparent licensing, permitting and reporting requirements.”
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry supports her efforts.
“Our neighboring states are cashing in on Texans’ bets. And a smart, efficient legal framework will keep that revenue here to go towards much-needed property tax relief.”
Projected revenue from legal sports betting could be more than $200 million in the first two years of legalization.
Republican has been a member of Texas Legislature for over two decades
Kolkhorst has been a member of the state Senate since 2014. She was a representative in the House from 2001 to 2014. Kolkhorst is just the 17th female to serve in the Texas Senate. She was born and raised in east-central Texas.
Kolkhorst is the chair of the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee, where she helps set public health policies. She took the lead in battling the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21.
The senator strongly supports women’s and children’s issues, aiding in better health care for pregnant women and newborns and protections for abused children in the foster care system.
Kolkhorst also serves on several other Senate committees.
- Business & Commerce
- Natural Resources and Economic Development
- Water, Agriculture and Rural Affairs
- State Water Implementation Fund for Texas Advisory Committee
- Texas Infrastructure Resiliency Fund Advisory Committee
- Texas Windstorm Advisory Board
- Legislative Budget Board
Tax revenue for education would align with Kolkhorst’s values
As in most states, a good portion of tax revenue from sports betting would likely go toward funding public education in Texas. Kolkhorst is a major supporter of education, and her efforts over the years prove that.
The senator won “Legislator of the Year” by the Texas Association of College Teachers as was also the “Friend of Education” award winner from Sam Houston State University College of Education.
Some of her recent efforts resulted in $11 billion in new student funding, giving educators raises and also supporting the Teacher Retirement System.