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Three Texas sports betting bills to be heard by House State Affairs Committee this week

Three bills to potentially legalize Texas sports betting will be heard for the first time this week in the House of Representatives State Affairs Committee.

On Wednesday, March 22, at 10:30 a.m. CST, three bills to legalize sports betting will be heard by the State Affairs Committee for the first time since being introduced. Two intertwined bills seek to legalize “destination resorts,” casino gaming, and sports betting in the Lone Star State, while the third bill seeks to only legalize online sports betting.

Lawmakers will consider the bills and their proposals to place casinos and sports betting on the general election ballot in November 2023.

Is this the year for Texas sports betting?

Each piece of legislation seeks a constitutional amendment for legalization, which would have to be approved by two-thirds majority in both Texas legislative chambers and by state voters in the November general election.

Already in 2023 numerous pieces  of legislation have been introduced to legalize Texas sports betting. Two bills, HJR 155 from Rep. Charlie Geren (R-99) and its enabling legislation HB 2843 from Rep. John Kuempel (R-44), seek to allow “destination resort” casinos in the state and legalize sports betting.

Geren’s legislation would legalize sports betting, allow for “destination resorts” and casino gaming in major metropolitan areas of Texas, and attempt to revitalize the state’s horse racing and greyhound industry. The law calls for the creation of the Texas Gaming Commission to oversee legalized gaming.

If approved by voters in November, the bill would allow for up to two destination resorts and casino gaming in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington Area, two resorts in the Houston-Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area, one resort in the San Antonio-New Braunfels metropolitan area, one in the Corpus Christi metropolitan area, one in the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metropolitan area, and then one additional resort in an area to be determine at a later time.

The bill also calls for a portion of casino gaming revenues to be used as horse racing purse money to promote its growth and sustainability in the state.

The legislation imposes a 15% tax on gross casino gaming revenue. It does not specify a sports betting tax.

In the Senate, Sen. Carol Alvarado (D-6) has proposed her own bill to legalize sports betting and casinos in the state.

Online sports betting only bill to be heard

The State Affairs Committee will also hear Rep. Jeff Leach’s (R-67) HB 1942 and HJR 102, legislation to legalize Texas online sports betting through a constitutional amendment.

The legislation is supported by the Texas Sports Betting Alliance, which is comprised of Texas professional sports franchises, sports leagues, race tracks, and sports betting platforms. The proposed laws will allow for the legalization of online sports betting through Texas professional sports teams. Each franchise will be able to apply for an online sports betting license, and if awarded one, can partner with up to one online sports betting operator.

If approved, WNBA, MLS, MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL franchises in the state will be eligible for online sports betting licenses.

Additionally, sanctioned, annual professional golf tournaments that are part of a national tour of professional golfers will also be eligible. Racetracks as well. Bets on college sports will be allowed through the bill.

The law will set the online sports betting tax rate at 10% of adjusted gross sports betting revenue and each license will cost $500,000.