While other states struggle to legalize sports betting, don’t rely on Texas to follow suit.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick told a radio host in Lubbock on Tuesday that he saw no support for the idea in the Texas Senate he chairs or among Republican voters.
“It’s not even an issue that will see the light of day at this session,” Patrick told Chad Hasty of KFYO in Lubbock.
Patrick said he personally never spoke out in favor of expanding legal gambling, but on top of that there are not enough members of the Texas Senate, making the problem a waste of time.
“We are far from having the votes,” said Patrick.
His comments come as state lawmakers across the country seek to capitalize on a 2018 United States Supreme Court ruling that struck down a law that had effectively banned sports betting in most states. Prior to this decision, only Nevada had legalized sports betting. Since the ruling, dozens of other states and the District of Columbia have legalized some form of sports betting.
One of the most recent examples was Tennessee, which launched legalized online sports betting in November 2020.
The Dallas Morning News reported Monday that the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers and Dallas Mavericks support any laws that would allow Texans to vote on whether to lift the state gambling ban.
The Texas Constitution currently prohibits any expansion of gambling. To change that, two-thirds of the Texas House and Texas Senate would have to vote to send an election question to voters.
Texas is facing a $ 9 billion budget gap, and some gaming interests have been hoping this would open the door for lawmakers to allow more gambling. But Patrick said if Republican-led legislation is pushed to allow gambling it will not be based on the projected revenue that sports betting or casinos can bring to the state.
He said with Texas’ budget exceeding $ 125 billion, sports betting groups boast of generating $ 150 million for the state, little to move the needle. Patrick said that wouldn’t even fund a day for the Texas government.
“If you want to go to your casinos or your sports books, talk about jobs, talk about tourism,” said Patrick.
The data on state elections and lobbying over the past six months shows how much gambling companies want to Texas.
Some of the largest casino operators in the world have come together to hire dozens of lobbyists in Texas. The late Las Vegas gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam together donated more than $ 5 million in campaign donations to Texas politicians to help Republicans maintain control of Texas House and the re-election campaigns of Governor Greg Abbott and House advance spokesman Dade Phelan.
Proponents of the expansion of Texas gambling say the state will lose billions of dollars in revenue when Texans go to Oklahoma, Louisiana, and New Mexico, where there are casinos and more permissive gambling laws.