AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Two state Republicans filed bills on Monday that would legalize and regulate online sports betting in the Lone Star State.
Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, and Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, both filed two bills for their respective chambers, citing the need to regulate an illegal online betting market. Their legislation would amend the Texas Constitution to “legalize and regulate mobile sports betting in Texas.”
“It makes sense to reign in all of the illegal offshore betting and keep sports wagering funds here in Texas,” Kolkhorst said in a statement from the Texas Sports Betting Alliance. “[The bills] will promote integrity through transparent licensing, permitting, and reporting requirements.”
Both online sports betting and casinos are illegal in Texas — with the exception of three casinos operating legally on Native American territory in the Lone Star State due to federal law. Despite casino-lobbying groups pouring millions of dollars into policymakers’ pockets in recent years, state lawmakers failed to move forward on legalizing either during the 2021 legislative session.
Opponents of betting legislation have raised concerns about gambling addictions and the social consequences of gambling. During his re-election campaign, Gov. Greg Abbott expressed openness to at least legalizing casinos, but with limitations.
In November, former Gov. Rick Perry threw his support behind legalizing mobile sports betting, joining the Texas Sports Betting Alliance as a spokesperson.
“Revenue from legal mobile sports betting in Texas could bring in more than a quarter billion in the first biennium alone,” Perry said in the press release. “Our neighboring states are cashing in on Texans’ bets and a smart, efficient legal framework will keep that revenue here to go towards much-needed property tax relief.”
The alliance consists of major professional Texas sports teams like the Houston Astros and Dallas Cowboys, as well as other sports leagues, racetracks, and betting platforms.