Sports-Betting Boost Expected With Texas, Oklahoma In SEC

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Sports-Betting Boost Expected With Texas, Oklahoma In SEC
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With the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners now in the Southeastern Conference, legal sports betting soon could jump by double digits in the region, says one bookmaker.

Starting this season, Texas and Oklahoma are in position to challenge for the SEC football championship — and championships across all SEC sports — in a collegiate conference loaded with rich traditions and annual national title contenders.

The Longhorns and Sooners joined the SEC in July. Both moved over from the Big 12.

“This new conference (alignment) leads to better games for the book and better opportunities for the player,” Casey Lewless, manager of two Louisiana sportsbooks, told Gambling.com.

Legal sportsbooks in Louisiana are popular with bettors from neighboring Texas and nearby Oklahoma. Sports wagering is illegal in Texas and Oklahoma.

Because of this, the Margaritaville Resort Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana, expects to see a bump of about 30% in college wagering, Lewless saId. That sportsbook already was anticipating more action because of its recent expansion.

The Margaritaville sportsbook is one of two in Northwest Louisiana that Lewless manages for Penn Entertainment. The other is at the nearby Boomtown Casino Hotel.

Lewless pointed to Texas’ rivalry years ago with the Arkansas Razorbacks in the former Southwest Conference as a matchup that will stir interest now that both are in the SEC. Sports betting is legal in Arkansas.

Also, every clash between the two Texas SEC schools — the Longhorns and Texas A&M Aggies —  will stir emotions and boost sports betting in close-by states like Louisiana where wagering is legal, Lewless said.

Sports Betting Illegal In Half Of SEC States

The addition of Oklahoma into the SEC means six of the 12 states with schools in the conference do not have legal sports betting. Texas already had a school in the SEC — Texas A&M.

Those six SEC states make up the largest geographic region in the U.S. without legal sports betting sites. Combined, the six states have a population of more than 62 million, representing about 19% of the U.S. population.

Nationwide, sports betting is legal in 38 states and Washington, D.C.

The SEC states without legal sports betting are:

  • Texas (Texas Longhorns, Texas A&M Aggies)
  • Oklahoma (Oklahoma Sooners)
  • Missouri (Missouri Tigers)
  • Alabama (Alabama Crimson Tide, Auburn Tigers)
  • Georgia (Georgia Bulldogs)
  • South Carolina (South Carolina Gamecocks)

The other six SEC states have either in-person or mobile sports betting — or both. Tennessee is a mobile-only state, while Mississippi has in-person sports betting at casinos but not off-site mobile wagering.

The SEC states with legal sports betting are:

  • Arkansas (Arkansas Razorbacks)
  • Louisiana (LSU Tigers)
  • Kentucky (Kentucky Wildcats)
  • Tennessee (Tennessee Volunteers, Vanderbilt Commodores)
  • Mississippi (Ole Miss Rebels, Mississippi State Bulldogs)
  • Florida (Florida Gators)

College Football Kicks Off In August

The overall college football schedule kicks off Aug. 24, including a matchup overseas between Florida State and Georgia Tech in the Aer Lingus College Football Classic in Dublin, Ireland.

In the SEC, the Oklahoma Sooners, led by head coach Brent Venables, begin their season on Aug. 30 against Temple at OU’s Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium.

The SEC schedule gets fully underway over the Labor Day weekend, highlighted by an Aug. 31 contest between Clemson and Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

On that same day, the Steve Sarkisian-coached Texas Longhorns host Colorado State in Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin.

The next day’s schedule, on Sept. 1, features another SEC school, LSU, in a matchup against Southern California in the Vegas Kickoff Classic at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

SEC Divisions Abandoned

The addition of Texas and Oklahoma brings the number of teams in the SEC to 16. This season, the conference football championship will be decided between the top two teams. The 2024 SEC title game is set for Dec. 7 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

In previous years, the conference was split into two divisions, with the East and West winners battling it out for for the SEC title.

The 2024 arrangement with no divisions is a departure in the conference structure dating back more than three decades.

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