Mark Cuban does not shy away from an opportunity to speak his mind on matters that pertain to his ownership of the Dallas Mavericks franchise.
One of those topics has been the potential legalization of sports betting in Texas.
Cuban is firmly in support of the idea. He’s done anything but been silent or unfirm on that opinion. Making that a reality will take a good deal of political maneuvering. And even in the best-case scenario, it isn’t going to happen for at least a couple more years.
Mark Cuban again voices support for legal Texas sports betting
On the subject of regulating sports betting in Texas, Cuban recently said he is “for legalizing all betting.” This is just the latest such instance.
In September, Cuban stated his support for legalization on Squawk Alley. In February, the Mavericks under Cuban’s leadership backed a bill to affect such a change.
At the time, the message to the Texas legislature from sports franchises like the Mavs was that not being able to take part in the industry would put them at a competitive disadvantage. Neil Libman, owner of the Texas Rangers, said the following during a committee hearing:
“I know each and every one of you has your favorite Texas sports team. If we do not adopt this, we will have a series of sports teams that will be noncompetitive. And I say this because all the other states that are legislating this are creating additional dollars for sports teams to go out and secure the best and highest quality players for their team. We will be a competitive disadvantage for every team in Texas, for every sport in Texas, if we have to compete against New York, Arizona, Louisiana, and other states where dollars are going to sports teams.”
True to Libman’s predictions, all three of the states he mentioned have legalized sports betting. It’s live in Arizona and on its way to New York (potentially going live by early 2022) and Louisiana (which could launch in mere weeks).
What happened to the bill Cuban helped create?
Despite Libman’s foresight, the bill ultimately died in the House. Leadership in the Senate made it clear that the issue would gain no traction in that chamber. The primary issue was conservative opposition on principle when it came to expanding gambling in any form.
Currently, the only form of gambling explicitly authorized in the Lone Star State is the Texas Lottery. There are a few tribal casinos within the state’s borders on sovereign lands. However, casinos in nearby Louisiana and Oklahoma count Texans among the majority of their visitors.
The lack of legal options within the Texas borders hasn’t deterred sports teams in the state from partnering with gambling companies, however. For instance, the Dallas Cowboys made WinStar Casino their official casino partner in 2019.
At that time, they were the first NFL franchise to form such a deal. Since then, the Houston Texans have signed Caesars on as a sponsor. And on the MLS side, Austin FC has named PointsBet Sportsbook its official sports betting partner.
In addition, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was an investor in DraftKings before the company went public. These are the kinds of deals that Cuban, Jones and Libman would like to expand upon. They’ll have to wait, though, and it’s unclear exactly how long.
Next opportunity to legalize TX sports betting still two years away
Due to the legal framework in Texas, the likely only way to expand gambling is through a constitutional amendment. That’s how the state authorized the Texas Lottery in 1991. That won’t even be a discussion until 2023, however.
That’s when the state legislature will next meet. If proponents are able to overcome the opposition in that session, Texas voters could see a ballot measure in November 2024. That seems a huge if, though.
Plus, there’s no guarantee such a measure would pass. On top of that, it’s hard to say how long it would take the legislature to approve the necessary enabling statute. Creating the needed regulations would add even more time.
None of that can happen unless the legislature gets a question on the ballot. The earliest opportunity for that is 2023. While that seems a ways off, it does give Cuban and others time to sway minds.