The Texas Sports Betting Alliance recently announced that 1.14 million attempts to bet on sports occurred in The Lone Star State between Sept. 1 and Oct. 23. This number is up 68.5% from the same timeframe a year ago.
The Alliance’s data comes from GeoComply, which collects statistics showing how many Texans attempted to bet at legal sportsbooks in other states. Over 20,000 came on Oct. 20, 22 and 23, during Games 5 through 7 of the American League Championship Series between the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros.
All attempts were blocked.
A data-backed effort to legalize sports betting in Texas
Sports betting in Texas remains illegal despite the demand these numbers indicate. The SBA, a coalition of in-state sports teams and four major online operators, hopes to use these numbers to further its case to legalize Texas sports betting in 2025.
The SBA’s inception was in 2021, a year in which legal Texas sports wagering efforts fell short. The illegal betting market had already begun growing, and the SBA committed to using these numbers to argue for a legal, regulated sports betting market.
In addition to unsuccessful attempts at legal sportsbooks, Texans place over 2 million bets annually at illegal, offshore sportsbooks, said SBA spokesperson Cara Gustafson in a press release.
“It’s simple. The data show that Texans want the freedom to place bets on their favorite teams safely and legally. Texas is one of only 12 states that have not legalized sports betting in some form. As the demand for a legal market in Texas continues to grow, we look forward to partnering with fans, teams and the betting platforms to continue conversations with the Legislature to pass sports betting in 2025.”
The SBA’s efforts helped gain momentum between the 2021 and 2023 legislative sessions. This past May, HB 1942 passed through the House for the first time but died in the Senate.
The next chance to pass Texas sports betting legislation comes in 2025. By then, they’ll have more data to confirm the amount of illegal sports betting taking place, and hopefully, those numbers will sway former naysayers.
SBA looks to make Texas ‘a leader’ in responsible gambling
Highlighting illegal gambling can advance the SBA’s efforts to create a regulated environment, but the accompanying data will also help craft a safe, secure landscape.
Illegal gambling brings into focus the greater discussion around responsible gambling in Texas, which upholds gamblers and operators alike. Unregulated sites do not guarantee the same safety or security as their legal competitors, nor do they provide bettors with the necessary information to ensure they gamble responsibly.
Gustafson spoke with PlayTexas last September about how the SBA can not only help legalize sports betting but also blaze new trails in responsible gambling, setting examples for other states nationwide.
“We have the benefit of watching other states legalize, and we can learn from them. We can be at the forefront of legal gambling protections and gambling addiction. Texas can be a leader in having so many sports fans safely learn about betting and safely execute it. If we can get all the sports teams on the same page, we can show a unified front.”
Numbers strengthen the case for future regulation
Quantifying the number of Texans illegally betting on sports helps strengthen the SBA’s argument for legalizing and regulating sports betting in Texas.
By remaining illegal, Texas sends untold amounts of revenue to black-market operators, who use it as they wish.
According to a PlayTexas analysis, legal sports betting could generate as much as $2 billion in revenue from $30 billion in wagers in its first year. That translates to hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue the state could use to benefit its citizens.
The SBA took a major step forward when HB 1942 cleared the House. Its momentum will continue to grow between now and 2025. Hopefully, it will help bring legal sports betting to the Lone Star State once and for all.