Last updated: June 1, 2020
Status:A bill was filed to legalize sports betting in 2019 in Texas but it didn’t pass. There has been no movement since.
ETA: It could be many years before Texas finally reacts to the changing mood of the nation.
As a sport-loving region, it is no surprise that Texas joined the list of American states making moves to legalize sports betting. The Supreme Court lifted the restrictions on individual states setting their own sport gambling laws in 2018 and sparked a rush to be first to get in on the action. The first Texan bill was filed in early 2019 by Republican Eddie Lucio and outlined plans to authorize sports betting operations, including mobile and online sports betting, in the state. But despite the state’s love of sport, it does not have a positive attitude towards gambling, causing many to predict the bill will fail.
Even if the bill is passed, it is not enough to get sports betting legalized. It would also require a referendum to amend the constitution, which would be put to a public vote in November. But it would need the backing of over two-thirds of the House and the Senate in order for that to happen.
The bill would allow five operating permits to be issued, with two branded skins allowed per permit. Operators would pay a 6.25% tax on the total amount wagered rather than on profit, making it virtually impossible to run a profitable sportsbook. As a result, further amendments are expected before the bill progresses any further.
Texas first legalized pari-mutuel betting on horse and dog racing in 1933 following the Great Depression and there were four race tracks operating in the state. However, just four years later, this type of betting was banned again. Attempts to revive horse race betting were defeated in 1962, 1968, 1974 and 1978. It took until 1987 before a referendum was finally approved by the public and the Texas Racing Commission was created. Simulcast wagering at tracks was approved in 1991.
The Texas Lottery was launched in 1992 and offers scratch cards as well as local and national draws. Non-profit organizations are permitted to operate up to three bingo games a week with a license from the Texas Lottery Commission and a maximum prize of $750 for a single game. Raffles are also permitted but the organisation must be approved by the Commission.
Thanks to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988, tribal gaming was permitted in the state and each of Texas’ three tribes have all operated casinos. However, their operations have been the subject of many legal challenges over the years, with the legitimacy of some of the games questioned. Legal wrangling is still ongoing.
Sports betting is illegal in Texas and experts believe it is unlikely to be legalized in the immediate future.
No one currently controls sports gambling in Texas.
If sports betting becomes legal in Texas, it is expected that an age limit of 21 will be applied.
You cannot legally bet on sports in Texas.
There are no sports betting operators or licensees in the state of Texas.
No company currently offer legal sports betting in the state.
If the bill is passed, there will be provisions for mobile betting in the state.
With little appetite for wagering in the region, there have been no accurate studies as to the worth of the sports betting to the state. However, the figure could run into tens of millions a year.
A tax rate of 6.25% on the total amount wagered has been proposed. However, it has been suggested that few operators would bother opening for business under such conditions.
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