Texas is arguably the most fanatical of all states in the Union when it comes to sporting events.
It is also an enormous, highly-populated place. There are an estimated 29.5 million Texas residents and no shortage of sports bettors and sports betting enthusiasts.
It has been speculated that the Lone Star State would instantaneously shoot to the top of the table in terms of sports betting markets were it to legalize sports betting. Online gambling and mobile betting alone would raise a staggering amount.
One problem is that Texas is also a fervently conservative place and that complicates matters.
With the fall of PASPA in 2018 (see our article – What states allow sports betting?) Texas lawmakers have been more inclined to propose sports betting bills. Unfortunately, the Texas legislature only meets every 2 years.
Since sports betting already received serious consideration during the 2021 legislative session, the next chance it will have to be addressed will be in 2023.
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The timeline of relevant events in Texas sports betting:
March 4th, 2022: Dan Patrick wins the Republican nomination to run for Texas Lieutenant General. Patrick is known for begin staunchly anti-gambling.
Feb 22nd, 2022: Spokesperson for the Sports Betting Alliance – Cara Gustafson indicates that there is an appetite for retail sports betting and online gambling in Texas like never before. Lawmakers are finally beginning to have their heads turned to listen. Gustafson says: “We believe that the voting threshold is there to pass this law in 2023.” Again representing the Sports Betting Alliance, Gustafson is already on record as saying that Texas is: “delaying the inevitable” in not legalizing sports betting. In their opinion, it is clearly just a matter of time before sports betting bills are accepted in Texas.
Jan/Feb 2022: More big-name gaming companies begin to make deals with teams across Texas that would come into play if sports wagering becomes legal in the Lone Star State.
Dec 17th, 2021: At the NCLGS gaming conference in Austin, Texas Rep Dan Huberty tells the attendees: “I really believe there’s an opportunity here to pass sports betting in 2023. If you present it to the voters in the right way, it’s going to pass.”
Sept-Oct, 2021: Some big hitters in the world of gaming companies strike partnerships with sports franchises across Texas. These deals can only come to fruition if sports betting is legalized in Texas.
IS SPORTS BETTING LEGAL IN TEXAS?
Sports betting in Texas remains illegal but there are major rumblings and movements in the works. There was another concerted push for legalisation in 2021 but the sports betting bill failed to advance from the committee stage.
Let’s be honest. The amounts of money that we’re talking about being raised if Texas were to legalize sports wagering are colossal. Texas legislators are slowly joining the increasing number of US states that are considering legalizing sports betting. It’s clear that new revenue sources to prop up their budgets are not to be sneezed at.
We’re casting no aspersions on the motives of lawmakers and state officials. However, whatever their motives might be to consider a change of heart, untold billions of dollars can’t be hurting. Those with a benevolent love of the people who wish to see the infrastructures of Texas improved see a great opportunity to do so.
OTHERS SEE AN OPPORTUNITY TO LINE ALREADY HEAVILY-LADEN POCKETS
Political opposition in Texas often makes it quite complicated for the Lone Star State to legalize professional and collegiate sports betting.
The vehemence of the pushback against legalized sports betting from conservatives might be less vigorous these days.
See the aforementioned ‘ocean of cash’ that would be created above and make your own judgements about their motivations in that regard.
It is entirely possible that the Texas State Legislature might see its way clear to moving into the modern world. At least as far as sports gambling is concerned.
Currently, the only way that Texans can lay a few dollars on their favorite sports teams is to travel to neighbouring states. Two states that border Texas already have legal sports betting. New Mexico has a number of retail sportsbooks available in some tribal casinos. Louisiana has provision for online sports betting is available and several in-person sportsbooks.
Again, those are housed inside tribal casinos.
If you live in the middle of the Lone Star State, you’ve got a rather long drive in either direction to get some skin in the game…
WILL ONLINE SPORTS BETTING COME TO TEXAS?
Opposition to making online sports betting legal is hard-wired into the legislative culture of Texas. In actuality, Texans themselves are not hugely opposed to sports betting.
A recent UT poll discovered that 43% of Texans are actually in favor of a move to legalize sports betting in the state.
31% had no strong feelings either way and 26% were significantly opposed to it.
These numbers were consistent irrespective of political party affiliations. Only the truly evangelical were dead against the idea.
WELL, 44% OF THEM ANYWAY
More than 50% of those questioned agreed that they would like to see the introduction of casino gambling to Texas.
Clearly then, there is strong evidence to support the notion that sports betting in Texas would be both welcomed and highly successful.
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SO WHY ISN’T IT HAPPENING?
We recognise that not everyone who gets the whiff of a huge windfall in their nostrils is a greed-driven maniac. But some of them make it really hard to argue against that notion.
It seems that it’s sometimes less a case of ‘we object on moral and ethical grounds’ than it is ‘we object to not being given enough money.’
Does that sound cynical enough?
No? Need more? Ok cool
What’s that you say? Texan politicians have received huge sums of money from a pool of over $15,000,000 in donations?
Who would make such ginormous payments and what might they expect in return?
Well, those payments came from the Chickasaw Nation. As a matter of the purest coincidence, no doubt, they happen to own the WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma. That’s about an hour North of Dallas.
It’s anybody’s guess as to why a company that owns a huge casino virtually on the border of Texas and Oklahoma would want to donate money to politicians who could affect the arrival of legalized gambling in Texas.
IT’S A PUZZLING CONUNDRUM FOR SURE
Combine that with the fact that the most vocal individuals in this scenario tend to be the older ones with the most resources. They are also the most likely to get out and vote. You find yourself with a number of very difficult political hurdles to get over in a state where 74% of taxpayers either want legal Texas sports betting, or have no objection to it whatsoever.
BUT REMEMBER FOLKS – THEY’RE WORKING HARD EVERY DAY FOR YOU…
ARE THERE ANY OPTIONS FOR SPORTS BETTING IN TEXAS?
There are currently no legal ways to bet on sports in Texas. The Texas sports betting bill looks set to be given a shot in 2023 but, as we have already seen, there are many potential pitfalls.
As with all things, there are ways around the situation but they are not recommended.
Offshore sportsbooks will happily accept bets from anywhere in the United States. The problem is that they are totally unlicensed. The license allows the state to regulate sports betting and provide consumer protection. Without that, there is literally almost nothing to stop offshore sportsbooks from simply refusing to honour any bets.
They could even just flat-out fold and take your money
You would have zero comebacks and they know that.
Drive to the border or don’t bother.
Losing money betting on sports is frustrating enough. Just imagine how much worse that feels if you win and still get nothing? Avoid
Although the state is massively limited in terms of legal forms of wagering, it is not completely without options.
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The Kickapoo Traditional Tribe in Texas has the only real casino offering casino games in the Lone Star State. The Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino is located in Eagle Pass, right on the border with Mexico. Not exactly convenient for 99% of those 29.5 million residents…
On the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe’s reservation near Livingston, Texas you can find an electronic bingo parlor run by Naskila Gaming. This venue is under constant threat from the state of Texas and has been since its appearance in 2016.
The site won a federal court victory that gives it legitimacy for the time being but the state is already set to appeal.
The Ysleta del Sur Pueblo tribe of El Paso has also been trying to run a gambling venue in Texas and faces similar opposition.
THE TEXAS LOTTERY
The Texas Lottery is the only real form of gambling approved by the Lone Star State. Tickets can only be purchased and checked at retail outlets across the state. They include all the standard games you’d expect to find. There are also scratch cards available.
So, it seems that gambling is just fine and dandy provided it’s 100% state-owned and sanctioned.
HORSE AND GREYHOUND WAGERING
Gambling on horse racing whilst physically at the trackside is legal in Texas.
Although greyhound racing is still technically legal, there are no facilities where one might do so.
Concerns about the treatment of dogs in the racing game have been vociferous over recent years. We have no further knowledge of the conditions that these animals experience but it has sounded the death-knell for greyhound racing in the USA.
The team at The Jump Hub deplores any and all cruelty to animals.
Texas, rather surprisingly given all that has come before, now has a reasonable number of poker clubs.
POKER ITSELF IS ILLEGAL UNDER TEXAS LAW
However, a sneaky way around this has been found.
If the game is held in a private location, all players have an equal chance to win, and nobody outside the game profits, then this constitutes a defense to prosecution. The clubs merely charge membership fees instead of expecting a cut of the pot and bingo!
WELL; NOT BINGO. POKER!
but there are three conditions that, when used together, constitute a defense to prosecution. Essentially, the game must be in a private location, the players must all have an equal chance of winning, and no one outside of the game can profit from it. The clubs’ model is to charge for membership fees and time, instead of raking the pots.
The matter is still not as secure as this clever bending of the rules might make it seem. The Texas attorney general is sitting firmly on the fence regarding the matter. A state representative has raised the issue but for now, it’s all good.
The potential revenue from opening up the Texas sports betting market is almost incomprehensibly huge.
There are a large number of Texas professional sports teams and college sports teams in the state. In fact, there is a general appetite for all things sporting in the Lone Star State.
From Texas Tech, the Texas Rangers, and the Dallas Mavericks to the Texas Longhorns, the Houston Astros, and many more…
Far be it from us to feel sympathy for Texans, they certainly don’t need our pity.
But it is a pity that such excitement and genuine passionate fervor goes to waste.
ALRIGHT, THAT’S EXAGGERATING IT A LITTLE…
Nobody is saying that it’s not possible to enjoy sports if you can’t also do a little betting in Texas.
But it has certainly enhanced our own personal enjoyment of watching the NBA over the years.
Are there good reasons why gambling should remain illegal? Sure.
But there are good reasons why alcohol should be illegal. There are good reasons why motorcycle helmets should be mandatory.
There are myriad reasons why anything potentially harmful to us should be illegal.
But they’re not.
Should we ban skateboards in case kids hurt themselves? Can we be trusted with sugary drinks and fatty foods? What if we consume too many and become dangerously obese?
What’s the difference?
Lots and lots and lots of money
The concept of legalized gambling in the USA is relatively new. Were it not for the shock Supreme Court ruling in 2018, this article wouldn’t even exist.
Those other examples of potentially harmful activities have had many years to settle down.
Either there is no financial or political motivation to do anything about them (see motorcycle helmets and skateboards) or the cash-filled envelopes required for heads to turn the other way have already landed on the appropriate desks.
Legal gambling is new. There will be an inevitable period of scuffling and conflict. Rolling around in the filth to see who can snuffle up the most scraps.
GREED CONQUERS ALL AND WE HAVE NO SHORTAGE OF THAT
Sports betting revenue could make such a difference in the lives of so many underprivileged communities and socio-economic groups in the United States.
Not just in Texas.
Forcing Texas residents to drive hundreds of miles to neighbouring states or turn to offshore sportsbooks doesn’t help the situation.
Unless we see Texas legalize sports betting, then the people who suffer are the honest punters. They just fancy livening up the games of their favorite Texas sports teams with a few dollars riding on them for fun.
They’re not harming anyone
There are, of course, many cases where gambling has harmed a great many people. Lives have been ruined. Families lost. Careers ended.
It’s not safe for everyone. But while those other unsafe concepts remain legal in Texas, it is only fair that the same rules are applied to all those who undertake dangerous activities, not just sports bettors.
DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK
DON’T HURT ANYBODY ELSE
Does that about cover it?