Texas Sports Betting Unlikely Despite Coastal Region Support

Texas Sports Betting Unlikely Despite Coastal Region Support

Texas sports gambling remains years away when, or if, it happens in a state long adverse to gambling expansion. That hasn’t stopped gambling supporters on the state’s coast.

In a report from the Corpus Christi Caller Times, several state lawmakers have considered gambling legislation for the 2019 session. They acknowledge it faces a difficult path.

First the state’s attorney general’s or governor’s office would have to evaluate the compatibility of a sports gambling law within the framework of the state constitution to determine what laws would need to be amended. Then legislation would need to go through a standard process of approval by both the state House and Senate as well as the governor.

The bigger problem is political will. Gambling has rarely been a priority in the Lone Star State. Growing concerns about immigration and hurricanes will take on added importance in Austin when legislators reconvene in 2019, meaning a sports wagering bill may not gain much traction next year.

Texas Gambling Remains Behind Other States

Despite a celebrated “wild west” history of saloons and gambling, Texas has lagged behind most other states with contemporary gambling movements. The state sold its first lottery ticket in 1992, later than a majority of U.S. states and nearly 30 years after New Hampshire adopted the first modern state-sponsored drawing.

Now the lottery records more than $5 billion in annual sales, with nearly 25% of that going back to state coffers. That hasn’t inspired more progressive legislation in other facets of gambling.

Modern pari-mutuel wagering on horse and greyhound tracks, which is available in almost every state, was only approved in 1987. The third-most populated state in America, Texas has no state-run casinos and only three total on tribal lands. State attornies have challenged their legality for more than two decades.

More recently a bill to regulate daily fantasy sites like DraftKings and FanDuel, which have formed partnerships with U.S. sportsbooks, failed to make it out of committee. With this track record, Texans shouldn’t bet on a sweeping sports betting bill like in New Jersey to be passed anytime soon.

Gulf Coast Proves More Progressive

Gambling is better supported along the state’s coastline, where towns like Galveston and Corpus Christi have embraced gambling opportunities. In the Caller Times article, Gulf Coast Racing General Manager Steve Lamb said his facility, one of the state’s relatively few dog tracks, could support a sportsbooks not long after it was legalized.

The region’s access to the coast has also allowed it to take advantage of international laws that don’t prohibit gambling. A series of operators from the Texas Costal Bend have taken patrons out to cruise ships anchored in international waters for more than 25 years.

Area lawmakers like state representatives Todd Hunter and Abel Hurrero have acknowledged the revenue opportunities gambling expansion could bring and want to make sure the region is prepared to take advantage of sports betting if it happens.

These legislators can look further down the gulf coast and already see the tourism and revenue opportunities for gambling. Louisiana allows casinos statewide and generates hundreds of millions annually. Further east, Mississippi’s gulf coast region has multiple casinos and will take its first bet on a sporting event later this month.

Interested in learning more about the current US sports betting landscape? Check out our latest Gamblecast explaining everything you need to know about US sports betting:

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