State Senator Lois Kolkhorst and Representative Jeff Leach filed bills Monday to legalize mobile sports betting in Texas.
“I am proud to partner with Senator Kolkhorst in filing this important legislation. It will serve to promote freedom and liberty in Texas and protect our citizens from the illegal and increasingly dangerous sports betting market that preys on unsuspecting consumers, including minors, putting their personal and financial information at great risk,” Rep. Leach said in a statement.
Sen. Kolkhorst’s SB 715 and SJR 39 would pair with Rep. Leach’s HB 1942 and JFR 102 to pave the way for Texas sports betting. While legalized sports gaming requires amendment of the Texas constitution, these bills are the first steps in that process. A Texas constitutional amendment requires approval from two-thirds of the House and Senate, and then approval from a majority of Texas voters.
“I introduced SB 715 and SJR 39 because Texas needs to bring security and safety into the world of mobile sports betting.” Sen. Kolkhorst said. “It makes sense to reign in all of the illegal offshore betting and keep sports wagering funds here in Texas. This is a sensible plan, which is why so many states have already passed similar legislation. As a former college athlete, I respect the purity of sports and fell SB 715 and SJR 39 will promote integrity through transparent licensing, permitting and reporting requirements. Most important of all, it will stop underage offshore betting that is happening across Texas today.”
Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa signed on as a joint author to Sen. Kolkhorst’s SB 715. Sen. Hinojosa also authored legislation to legalize sports betting in 2021.
Texas Sports Betting Alliance Collaboration
The proposed legislation was filed in collaboration with the Texas Sports Betting Alliance, whose partners include the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Stars, Dallas Mavericks, FC Dallas, the Texas Rangers, Texas Motor Speedway, BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel.
Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones said in a statement from Sports Betting Alliance that the proposed legislation would “… give Texans the ability to decide for themselves if they want this activity safely regulated or continue to be conducted in the shadows by out-of-state betting platforms.”
These proposed bills are the latest in several attempts in the Texas legislature to begin legalizing gambling in 2023. Representative Charlie Geren filed legislation Friday that would allow voters to decide whether to legalize expanded casino gambling and legalize sports betting in Texas. Rep. Geren’s HJR 97 allows for a limited number of destination-resort style casinos.
Prior to that, Senator Carol Alvarado pre-filed legislation prior to the opening of the Texas legislative session that would not only legalize sports wagers, but also pave the way for Texas to become a gambling destination. Sen. Alvardo’s SJR 17 would establish the Texas Gaming Commission and also allow a limited number of destination resorts to conduct casino gaming.
However, the Texas Sports Betting Alliance’s support of Monday’s proposed legislation may signal a greater chance of success. Former Governor Rick Perry is serving as a spokesperson for the group, which advocates for mobile sports betting in the state. Texas Ethics Commission records show that 20 lobbyists are registered to represent the Sports Betting Alliance.
Who Else? Several States Push To Legalize Sports Betting in 2023