Texas Sports Betting Heads to Senate, Then Perhaps to Voters

A Texas sports betting bill that calls for a Nov. 7 ballot measure to amend the Texas Constitution received House approval on May 11. HJR102 moves to the Senate next. However, if that chamber also approves the bill, it bypasses the governor due to the need for a vote in the state with 31 million residents.

Although sports betting is legal in most of the US, Texas remains a prize due to its sizable population.

So many are celebrating yesterday’s 101-42 vote because it’s the farthest any effort to legalize online sports betting’s gotten in Texas. That includes a couple of bills Texas lawmakers introduced recently.

Meanwhile, the last time online sportsbook operators saw a comparable ballot measure was in November 2022. That was in California, a state with a population of 39 million. Operators spent millions on advertising, seeking voter approval for Propositions 26 and 27. However, both issues failed.

As a result, operators like DraftKings (DraftKings 43,53 +0,48%) had to cut costs – laying off employees and reducing marketing spend. 

Texas Sports Betting Bill Details

HJR102 will need to move through the second chamber of the Texas Legislature quickly, considering the body adjourns on May 29.

Then, unlike the average bill approved in the House and Senate, HJR102 won’t head to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to be signed into law.

That’s because the measure would amend the state constitution, which requires a popular vote.

The 1-page bill already includes the ballot question:

The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to legalize wagering in this state on certain sporting events and requiring the legislature to dedicate to property tax relief at least 98 percent of the net state tax revenue generated from the wagering on sporting events.

A fiscal note attached to the bill shows publishing the ballot question will cost Texas $204,406.

However, the bill introduced on Feb. 6 by state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, and co-sponsored by four bipartisan House members lacks many details.

Other than saying Texans can bet on events by sports teams, sports organizations including golf tournaments, and horse racing, it doesn’t elaborate on much.

A few items the bill doesn’t include are:

  • A legal gambling age
  • The tax rate on sportsbook operators
  • A launch date

Perhaps those details will come from Senate amendments if HJR102 progresses.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
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