O’Rourke, a Democrat, noted that Texans are crossing state lines to legally bet on sports in Louisiana and Arkansas, and that it’s costing the state billions of dollars in lost tax revenue at a time when property taxes are on the rise.
“From listening to Texans across the state, it’s one, a very popular proposal, and two, it would also help us address some of the challenges we have in reducing inflation and property taxes in the state,” O’Rourke said. “So, I think that warrants a very close look, and it’s something I’m inclined to support.”
Aside from California, Texas remains the most potentially lucrative sports betting market that has yet to be legalized. Dave Forman, senior director of research at the American Gaming Association, estimated that Texas is losing out on $1.3 billion in sports betting revenue annually.
Ben Fawkes, the vice president of digital content for the Vegas Stats and Information Network, echoed those sentiments. Fawkes believes that the population base in Texas would allow it to challenge the likes of New Jersey and New York.
“Texas would be right up there,” Fakwes said. “It would be in the top three for sure and then probably one or two depending on adoption, but it’s such a massive population base, it’s gonna be one of the biggest markets.”
Path To Legalization In Texas
Power players in professional sports led by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones previously formed a coalition to support legal sports betting in the state. The Dallas Mavericks and Texas Rangers were also a part of that push.
“There’s clear consumer demand—as well as a coordinated effort with teams and sportsbooks—to legalize sports wagering, so we expect to see renewed efforts in Austin in the future,” Forman said.
“Texans are certainly gambling today—they’re just doing so with illegal, offshore operators or bookies who have no regulatory oversight, skip out on taxes, and do not offer any protections for the consumer, wagers, or games,” Forman said.
The state’s Republican party has been staunchly opposed to legal sports betting and it controls the legislature. The next chance for legalization will come in 2023 when the legislature meets again. Steady opposition from Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and other Republicans has kept legal Texas sports betting on hold indefinitely.
“It’s not even an issue that’s going to see the light of day this session,” Patrick said in February 2021.