Landmark movements are being made in the Texas state legislature. Two bills related to gambling legislature have made it out of committee to reach the US Senate.
House bills 2843 and 1942 are two pieces of legislation that would turn the Texas gambling sector into a fully functioning entity. Bringing into law the legal regulation of both casino gambling and online sports betting.
Currently most forms of gambling are outlawed, with the only exceptions listed as lottery participation, greyhound and horse race wagering and bingo.
Should this legislation be approved it would permit the operation of 8 pending resort casinos. This bill would also include mobile-only sports wagering, which sees the bill being backed by the sports betting alliance along with a collective of major sportsbooks and professional Texan sports teams.
This bill is being represented by several entities, including the Las Vegas Sands resort behemoth, who have had a presence at two sessions in a row now with the interest of pushing these bills through. Spending a small fortune dating back to 2020 on lobbyists, television ads and numerous other campaign contributions.
This momentum may not be enough to sway the US Senate however, as bills of this nature imply alterations to the Texas constitution requiring a ⅔ majority in both chambers for success. A tough ask despite the support the bills have received due to the Senate’s seeming disinterest in the sector or the legislation.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, presiding over the Senate stated an emphatic lack of GOP support, “Our members have been clear: they’re not in support today. We don’t have any votes in the Senate. Couldn’t find one Senator who supported it”.
He also noted his refusal to pass any legislation driven by Democratic majority. Wishing to see Republican consensus to even spark a consideration in favour of the bills. A sentiment that derives from the fear of societal problem gambling and the perceived predatory nature of gambling platforms and venues.
Such a stance could be seen as imprudent due to the Sports Betting Alliance’s estimation that over $6 billion is spent annually by Texans on sports betting alone. Along with this the American Gaming Association has also found that illegal sports betting, which is undoubtedly rife throughout Texan borders, is costing states possibly over $700 million dollars in annual tax revenue.
Aside from the direct revenue, proponents of the bills also emphasise the plethora of opportunities, including mass job creation and increase in sales and hotel stays which could easily return a fortune in tax revenue.
The argument has also been made that with a vast swath of Texans already engaging in gambling activities without repercussion, it would not be possible to protect these individuals under the law. Protecting the integrity of spotting events is also a tough task if legislation is not realised.
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