Five Texas Pro Teams Take A Stand On Sports Betting

A slew of Texas professional sports teams and sports betting operators are making some noise in Texas, where so far just one bill that would allow for statewide mobile/online sports wagering has been filed. The consortium of teams and companies say they support a proposal that would bring the decision to legalize to the voters, according to the Dallas Morning News. (link here, but site is paywalled) )

The bill will call for potential operators to partner with professional sports franchises or horse racetracks to offer retail and mobile sports betting. It is in the draft stages, and will be sponsored by Rep. Dan Huberty. Voters would have the opportunity to legalize in November 2022, meaning sports betting wouldn’t be up and running in Texas until at least 2023. After that — or possibly in tandem with the referendum bill — lawmakers would then need to pass legislation setting up a framework.

“Unregulated and illegal sports gambling is already taking place in the State of Texas,” Charlotte Jones, the Dallas Cowboys’ Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer, told the DMN, according to a statement released by the Sports Betting Alliance. “Legalized sports betting would regulate the industry and generate hundreds of millions of dollars of new revenue for the state which will help fund critical programs without raising taxes.”

Dallas teams are all on board

The coalition so far includes the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, the NHL’s Dallas Stars, MLB’s Texas Rangers, and MLS’ FC Dallas, according to the DMN. Industry sources say BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel have also signed on. The expectation is that more teams in the state and sports betting operators will join the cause.

There are 10 professional sports franchises in Texas, and the current list includes only teams based in the Dallas area. Other Texas pro teams include the NFL’s Houston Texans, MLB’s Houston Astros, the NBA’s Houston Rockets, MLS’ Houston Dynamo, and the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs.

According to the DMN, the new bill will include a 90% payout cap. From the story:

Bettors would receive a maximum of 90% of their winnings, the current draft bill states. According to Rep. Dan Huberty, a Houston Republican authoring the bill, 10% would go to fund special education in Texas.

But multiple stakeholders say there won’t be a payout cap, but gross gaming revenue will be taxed at 10%. The proposal would allow wagering on college and professional sports, digital platforms would pay a $500,000 application fee, while a retail operating license would cost $50,000. The Texas Dept. of Licensing and Regulation would serve as the regulator, according to the stakeholders.

The only state with a payout cap is Tennessee, which launched operations for digital sports betting on Nov. 1, 2020. Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. considered including a payout cap when they legalized, but did not after pressure from stakeholders.

It will compete with HB 1121, filed by Rep. Harold Dutton in January. That bill appears to allow for statewide digital wagering, would tax gross gaming revenue at 6.25%, prohibits betting on college sports, and caps the number of available licenses at five. Dutton’s bill was filed nearly a month ago and has not been assigned to committee yet. The Texas legislature meets only once every two years, and is set to adjourn on May 31.

Sports betting talk all the rage in Texas

Sports betting has been making headlines in Texas for months, starting with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s push late last year. Adelson, who passed away in January, reportedly spent $10 million on lobbying efforts to move gaming forward in Texas, and since his death, his Sands Corp. has said it will continue to lobby for legal sports wagering.

Despite the enthusiasm from stakeholders, sports betting isn’t likely to just sail through the legislature or voters in Texas. State lawmakers and residents have long had an aversion to any kind of legal gaming, a stance that Gov. Greg Abbott has been vocal about. All three of Texas’ border states — Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, offer some form of legal gambling. There are Las Vegas-style casinos in both Louisiana and Oklahoma — all of which advertise in Texas (in Dallas, in particular) to draw customers. Retail sports betting is live in Arkansas and voters legalized it in Louisiana last November.

“My view is that Texas is going to be one of the 10 last states to allow gambling,” said Matt Mackowiak, a GOP consultant and chairman of the Travis County Republican Party told the Morning News. “I do think [sports betting is] a lighter lift, and it may be where they end up.”

Professional sports team owners in Georgia and Massachusetts have tried similar tactics, though neither state has legalized sports betting. It’s looking more and more like Georgia could be among the states to legalize this year, but in Massachusetts, where stakeholders have stridently voiced their frustration, there are again multiple competing bills in the state’s General Court.

Latest posts