Texas Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to Legalize Gambling and Sports Betting

by Ciaran McEneaney - Wednesday, March 10th, 2021 10:58

Texas Senate
Texas Senate

Texas lawmakers have filed legislation that, if passed, will legalize sports betting and casino gambling in the Lone Star State.

Rep. John Kuempel, R-Seguin filed a proposal HJR 133 that calls for an amendment to the constitution to allow the establishment of a legal and regulated gambling industry. Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston then brought a similar proposal before the Senate while Rep. Toni Rose, D-Dallas was later added as a joint author to the House proposal.

The proposals, which have the backing of gaming giant Las Vegas Sands, would allow the state to create special gaming licenses for destination resorts in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. The Texas Gaming Commission would oversee the issuance of the licenses while regulating the casinos. The commission would also oversee the establishment of a legalized sports betting industry.

For the legislation to pass into law it will need to be passed by a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and the Senate before finally going to a public vote in the November election.

The introduction of the proposals marks the latest development in the Las Vegas Sands’ continued efforts to bring legalized gambling to Texas.

Speaking of the proposals Andy Abboud, Las Vegas Sands senior vice president said:

“We appreciate the work of the bill’s sponsors and we are excited to engage in further discussion with elected leaders and community stakeholders on the possibilities for expanding Texas’ tourism offerings through destination resorts.”

In keeping with the company’s vision of improving local tourism, the legislation also calls for significant development in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston to the tune of $2 billion. The legislation also proposes investment of $1 billion in San Antonio and Austin.

The new legislation also proposes a tax revenue of 10% on table games and 25% on slot machines. However, there was no mention of tax rates for sports wagering.

The news of the proposals in the House and Senate come less than a month after a similar push by the state’s professional sports teams to have sports wagering legalized.

The Sports Betting Alliance which includes the Texas Rangers, and Dallas Cowboys and Maverick is clearly focused on its own sports betting legislation authored by Rep. Dan Huberty, but its members could still back these proposals.

Cara Gustafson, a spokesperson for the Sports Betting Alliance, said:

“The Sports Betting Alliance is focused solely on mobile sports betting legislation, however several of our member teams and organizations may support these bills individually and any bills that give Texans the opportunity to decide if they want to regulate gaming in Texas.”

Image credit: Wally Gobetz / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Ciaran McEneaney

Ciaran has a decade of experience writing for some of the biggest names in the eSports, poker, and casino industries.