Texas Can Legalize Sports Betting in November, But With An Interesting Condition

Legal sports betting in Texas is now one step closer to making the November 2021 ballot, but if approved, it’ll come with an interesting condition.

Texas representative Dan Huberty filed a bill that would put legal sports betting on this year’s ballot, Daniel Wallach of The Athletic reported Tuesday. If approved, Texas’ professional sports teams would hold sports betting licenses rather than casinos and gaming operators.

News of the bill comes just a few weeks after Morgan Stanley predicted Texas would become one of 12 states to legalize sports betting in 2021. If approved, professional sports teams in Texas could apply to obtain licenses and begin operations.

While professional sports leagues and teams currently have partnerships with casinos and sports betting operators, none operate the wagering themselves. The move would be unprecedented, but that may have been the plan all along. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is an investor in DraftKings, and Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta owns the Golden Nugget.

Still, there are obvious concerns about conflicts of interest. It's unclear whether teams would need to partner with independent groups to ensure integrity. They could also still potentially partner up with gaming operators like FanDuel.

Twenty-three states have legalized sports betting, with 20 states already operating. It comes as no surprise that sports betting has proven to be a boon for state economies.

There’s no telling how much revenue sports betting could generate for a state as populated as Texas. Michigan, which authorized online sports betting to operate on January 22, handled over $115 million in its first ten days.

Opponents, however, don’t believe the added revenue matters. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick isn’t budging from his position.

“I’ve never been in favor of it,” Patrick said on a Texas local radio show. “Every year, I say the same thing. Don’t talk about revenues. The teams and casinos trying to push sports betting say they could generate $150 million a year by their numbers. That’s a lot of money. But it pays for half a day of our yearly budget.”

It’s still an uphill climb, but it’s encouraging to see Texas legislators, who have opposed legalized sports betting for decades, finally open up to the idea. For many in Texas, legal sports betting is long overdue.

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