A pair of gambling expansion bills are slated to be heard Wednesday in the Texas House of Representatives.
House Bill 1942 and House Bill 2843 were considered Monday in the House Calendars Committee and added to Wednesday’s House calendar for second readings. Even if the bills emerged from the House, it is a longshot for either to gain traction in the Senate.
Both bills received hearings in March in the Texas House State Affairs Committee. They were reported favorably out of the committee in April. Both bills are enabling legislation to resolutions that seek to amend the Texas Constitution.
Bills focus on Texas sports betting, Texas casinos
HB 1942, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, is the enabling legislation for House Joint Resolution 102, which would legalize online sports betting in Texas.
“It’s clear that wagering on sports is here to stay,” Leach told the House State Affairs Committee in March. “But it’s being done in the shadows with no protections, privacy or recourse.”
Leach’s bill authorizes online sports betting licenses for the state’s 12 pro sports teams, two race tracks and the PGA. It taxes sports betting operators at 10% of adjusted gross gaming revenue – the money a sportsbook makes in bets minus its payouts and promotional money given to bettors.
HB 2843, sponsored by Rep. John Kuempel, R-Seguin, is the enabling legislation for House Joint Resolution 155, which would allow for resort casinos in Texas licensed through pari-mutuel race tracks in major metropolitan areas. It also would allow for retail sports betting at licensed casinos.
Texas sports betting’s prospects
Even if a sports betting bill emerges from the Texas House, it faces a steep climb in the Senate.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick repeatedly has said gambling expansion has no support among Republicans in the Senate.
Many heavy hitters have banded together in the Texas Sports Betting Alliance (SBA) to support sports betting efforts. Alliance members include all the Texas pro sports teams and sports-wagering operators Penn Gaming (owners of Barstool Sportsbook), DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM.
Former Gov. Rick Perry, a spokesperson for the SBA, said he believes the overwhelming support across the state will make passing legislation a no-brainer. Gaming industry research group Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, however, doesn’t believe that support is enough. It sees “2025 as the more likely target for Texas online sports betting legalization.”