Mattress Mack Doesn’t Expect Legal Sport Betting In Texas Soon, But Eyes March Madness, Astros Bets

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Mattress Mack Doesn’t Expect Legal Sport Betting In Texas Soon, But Eyes March Madness, Astros Bets
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Multimillion-dollar sports bettor Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale doesn’t expect sports wagering to be legalized in Texas in the next few years — but he’s happy placing his bets next door in Louisiana.

The Houston furniture store owner told Gambling.com this week he “seriously” doubts Texas lawmakers will approve a measure to legalize sports betting when they next meet in Austin in 2025.

“They can’t pass anything,” McIngvale, 73, said in a telephone interview. “It’s a fractured group.”

McIngvale, whose major bets in Louisiana and elsewhere usually attract media attention, said he has no problem making the drive over to Louisiana. The state line is about 100 miles from Houston.

In Louisiana, bettors in most parishes can use mobile devices to place legal sports bets or show up to bet in person at a casino sportsbook.

“I’m perfectly happy going to Louisiana,” McIngvale said. “All I do is sell furniture and go to Louisiana and bet.”

McIngvale, owner of Gallery Furniture, said he probably will bet this year on the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament and on Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros. 

He said it’s too early to decide which team to bet on to win the March Madness tournament. He noted that the Houston Cougars (21-3), ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, have a talented team this season.

McIngvale previously told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he wasn’t putting any money on this year’s Super Bowl game between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, held Feb. 11 in Las Vegas. The Chiefs won the game in overtime, 25-22.

Two years ago, McIngvale lost $9.5 million by taking the Cincinnati Bengals to win the Super Bowl, USA Today reported, but won a record $72.6 million in 2022 by betting on his hometown Houston Astros to win the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Astros won the title, defeating the Phillies four games to two.

McIngvale said the Astros are expected to be contenders this season. The team recently signed star second baseman José Altuve to a new contract. The Astros open the regular season March 28 at home against the New York Yankees.

Louisiana Thanks Texas For Sending Bettors Their Way

Previous legislative efforts to approve sports wagering and casino expansion in Texas have been unsuccessful. Among those seeking to expand gaming in the state is Miriam Adelson of Las Vegas Sands Corp. She recently purchased a majority stake in the NBA's Dallas Mavericks.

Texas is the nation’s second most populated state, only behind California in the number of residents. Neither state has legal sports betting. Across the country, sports betting is legal in 38 states and Washington, D.C.

Ronnie Johns, chairman of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, previously told Gambling.com he doesn’t think Texas lawmakers will approve sports betting soon. At one Control Board meeting in 2022, he thanked Texas for sending its gamblers to Louisiana.

The casinos in Lake Charles, Louisiana, only about 2 1/2 hours from Houston, typically generate more gaming revenue than the state’s other metro casino markets, including New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Houston is the fourth most-populated city in the U.S.

Johns is a former state senator from Lake Charles.

Missouri Voters Could Decide On Sports Betting

Texas is not the only state where some people have expressed doubts their Legislature will approve a sports betting measure this year or in the near future.

As in Texas, sports betting is illegal in Missouri. Its Legislature also has shot down previous efforts to approve sports betting. These efforts have run into a legislative battle over the video lottery games operating in places such as convenience stores and bars.

In Missouri, Gary Jenkins, an attorney and former Kansas City Police Department intelligence detective, recently told Gambling.com on “The Edge” that he doubts the Legislature, now meeting in Jefferson City, will approve any measures this year that would lead to legal sports betting.

Jenkins noted Missouri is losing millions in tax dollars to bordering states where sports betting is legal. Every state that borders Missouri, except Oklahoma, has leagl sports betting. Missouri's two largest cities are border cities -- -- St. Louis (Illinois) and Kansas City (Kansas).

The former Kansas City detective said an initiative by the state’s major pro sports teams to gather enough signatures to let voters decide on sports betting probably will be successful.

The initiative’s organizers need more than 170,000 signatures from registered voters by May 8 for the issue to appear on the November ballot this year.