Will The Stars Align For Texas Teams To Offer Sports Betting?

Posted By Matthew Kredell on February 23, 2021

New Texas legislation would allow sports teams to offer sports betting at their stadiums and arenas if approved by voters.

Rep. Dan Huberty and Sen. Juan Hinojosa filed companion legislation Tuesday to legalize and regulate sports wagering in the Lone Star State.

Implementation bills H 2070/S 736 authorize retail and online sports wagering for the major professional Texas sports teams and Class 1 racetracks. The bills also provide retail-only sports wagering to minor league stadiums and other venues.

The expansion of gambling in Texas requires a constitutional amendment. So the lawmakers also offered HJR 97/SJR 97 to amend the state constitution and allow Texans to vote on the issue on the November ballot.

The legislation is backed by the newly formed Sports Betting Alliance, which includes Texas professional sports teams, racetracks, and sports wagering operators.

Details of Texas sports wagering bills

The Texas Sports and Entertainment Recovery Act authorizes retail and online sports wagering for major horse racetracks, professional sports teams from Major League Baseball, the NBA, NHL, NFL, and Major League Soccer.

Key details of the legislation include:

  • Allows retail sports wagering only at sports facilities for minor league teams, racetracks not classified as Class 1, motorsports tracks with a seating capacity of at least 5,000, and golf courses hosting PGA Tour events.
  • For a three-year license, mobile applicants pay $500,00o renewable for $100,000; retail applicants $50,000/$25,000; and service providers pay $25,000/$10,000.
  • Sports teams can offer sports wagering at their stadiums or arenas, or at entertainment districts around those venues.
  • Racetracks and pro teams are limited to partnering with sports wagering operators for one online skin.
  • Sets a 10% tax rate. The bills differ in where the state revenue goes. The House bill dedicates it to education funding, the Senate bill to reducing property taxes.
  • Requires the use of official league data for in-play wagers.
  • Allows betting on college sports, esports, and amateur athletic events such as the Olympics, but not youth sports.

In a statement released by the Sports Betting Alliance, Huberty said:

“Sports betting is happening illegally in Texas right now and it is important for the state to take control. By implementing efficient state oversight of sports betting, we will allow Texans to safely engage with the sports they love while creating a new revenue stream to support education and other important state programs.”

Introducing the Sports Betting Alliance

Texas sports teams see sports wagering as a way to reconnect with fans following the pandemic.

The Sports Betting Alliance includes the following sports teams:

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Houston Texans
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Houston Rockets
  • San Antonio Spurs
  • Texas Rangers
  • Houston Astros
  • Dallas Stars
  • Austin FC
  • FC Dallas
  • Houston Dynamo FC
  • Houston Dash
  • Dallas Wings

The Alliance also includes these sports wagering operators:

  • DraftKings
  • FanDuel
  • BetMGM
  • Penn National Gaming
  • theScore

“Texans have a strong sense of independence, value their individual liberty, and want the freedom to make their own choices,” said Cara Gustafson, spokesperson for the Alliance. “The decision about whether to legalize sports betting or participate in sports betting should be left up to each Texan without government interference.”

Texas sports betting won’t face easy path

Rep. Harold Dutton introduced another sports wagering bill earlier this year. His legislation authorizes sports betting for five online-only operators. It also prohibits betting on college sports.

Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick previously said that he didn’t think a sports wagering bill would be introduced in the Senate.

He was wrong. But the legislation will have a difficult path in the higher chamber without his support.

Hinojosa made the following statement:

“I look forward to working with my legislative colleagues to give voters the right to decide whether sports betting should be legalized in Texas. Not only will a thoughtful, legal framework preserve the integrity of sports and protect consumers, it will raise as much as $1.8 billion over 10 years in much-needed revenue to support vital state programs.”

The Alliance projects sports betting can bring Texas as much as $180 million in annual revenue initially, and up to $400 million at market maturity. However, Patrick already spoke about how that revenue doesn’t make much difference in Texas’ $125 billion budget.

Constitutional amendments require passage by a two-thirds vote in each legislative chamber. The Texas legislative session runs to May 31.

Photo by AP / Kamil Krzaczynski
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