Debate on Sports Betting Legalization in Texas Continues

A few years have passed since the US Supreme Court deemed PASPA unconstitutional, allowing states to legalize sports betting under their own rules. Since 2018, when PASPA was struck down, many states have legalized and introduced sports wagering, creating a new stream of tax revenue and establishing competitive markets that also protect the consumers.

While many US states, by now more than 30, have legalized and introduced some form of sports wagering, efforts in Texas are still ongoing. Legislative efforts via HJR 102 and House Bill 142 (HB 142) seek to legalize the activity. Ultimately, it would be up to the voters to give the green light and if the proposals gain further traction. Given this happens, an amendment to the constitution will be up for a vote by Texas residents in November.

Now, the Texas House State Affairs Committee recently held a hearing on the topic. Supporters and opponents of the gambling expansion spoke on Wednesday, each presenting their positions. Aside from the hearing on HB 142 and HJR 102, the proposals are yet to be voted on by the Committee before gaining further traction.

Legalization of Sports Wagering Expected to Bring Benefits

The Sports Betting Alliance, represented by Scott Ward, is one of the organizations supporting the legalization of sports wagering. Ward noted that there is a continuously growing sports betting market in Texas that operates illegally.

He confirmed that sports betting operators are prepared to offer regulated sports betting that is safe for consumers. Ward noted that the industry is aware that there is a significant “demand for illegal sports betting in Texas,” but at the same time, he acknowledged that there is also a strong demand for safe and legal sports betting activities in the state.

“It’s being done in the shadows, with bookies and offshore accounts, with no regulation, no protections for privacy or data, no monitoring, and certainly no recourse for anyone to be held accountable if something goes awry with a placed bet in the state of Texas.“

Rep. Jeff Leach

Rep. Jeff Leach, the sponsor of HB 142, also acknowledged the importance of a legal sports betting market. He flagged that the activity is already available and happening in Texas, and has been, in the last decade, but via illegal outlets. Leach warned that illegal sports betting poses a risk for the players and this doesn’t apply to their money only, considering that participating in illegal betting is deemed as a criminal activity.

According to him, the illegal activity poses a significant threat to the users as it is lacking data, monitoring or privacy protection. However, Leach said that this can change thanks to the new proposal that gives a chance for the lawmakers to “implement smart, safe and efficient oversight over the sports wagering industry and activities” in Texas. Last but not least, he predicted that with the right set of rules, a sports betting bill can deliver benefits for the consumers and raise revenue for the state.