How will the NIL Bill Impact Texas Sports Athletes

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Texas is a passionate sporting hub, with baseball, American Football and even soccer (especially in the form of the MLS) incredibly popular amongst fans.

Having had sports betting in Texas researched here, however, we see that this practice is still illegal in the state, which means that fans are currently unable to wager on their favourite sides within the boundaries of the state.

In other sporting news, new legislation has just been passed which will significantly benefit young college athletes in the state. We’ll explore this below, while casting our eyes over iGaming and asking whether this could be legalised anytime soon?

 How Young Athletes Can Now Profit From Their Name, Image and Likeness (NIL)

 The new legislation was approved by the Texas state senate last month, through a comprehensive bill referred to as ‘SB 1385’.

This pertains to the existing laws surrounding name, image and likeness (NIL), which are also referred to as image rights and a key staple of contract negotiations for athletes across a broad range of sports.

In simple terms, this will enable college athletes to profit directly from their NIL, with this the eighth such piece of legislation successfully passed at state level. Florida and Mississippi have already passed legislation that went into effect on July 1st, while California’s approved bill will be enacted in 2023 having been approved back in 2019.

Elsewhere, Alabama, Colorado, Michigan and Nebraska and New Jersey have all proposed similar legislation, while there has even been talk of a federal law being passed on the matter at some point in the future (although it’s currently unclear which way this would sway).

These laws, including the Texas iteration, are focused on something that has been a key talking point for years, with college athletes historically forbidden from profiting directly from their image rights by NCAA policies.

Prior to the law being rolled out in Texas, a student athlete that sought to contravene the legislation would potentially lose all eligibility to play, damaging their careers and preventing them from establishing a successful professional career.

Not only was the potential punishment grossly unfair, but it has long been argued that college athletes should earn a viable share of their revenue that their ability (and profile) accrues on behalf of universities.

Previously, all of this yield would have gone to the educational bodies in question, which is a highly questionable state of affairs given the hard work required for athletes to succeed at college level.

A Look Ahead to the Future in Texas

 The Texas Bill SB 1385, was eventually approved in a 9-0 consensus by the senate, with the Republican senator Brandon Creighton having authored the initial legislation with support from senators César J. Blanco, José Menéndez, Borris L. Miles, Charles Schwertner, Royce West and Judith Zaffirini as co-authors.

The rollout of this new, forward-thinking legislation has got some talking about iGaming laws in the state, which are currently completely non-existent.

More specifically, there’s no express law that opposes online gambling in the state of Texas, but neither has there been any official legalisation process or the creation of an independent regulatory framework.

Given this and the relatively restricted range of offline verticals available to bettors (namely private games, lotteries, charitable gamblimg and pari-mutuel racing), it’s reasonable for punters to assume that they should refrain from wagering in Texas.

The question that remains, of course, is will Texas legalise online gambling in the future? In the short-term, the answer is almost certainly ‘no’, despite the fact that some demand exists in the state and approximately 57% of Texans are in favour of legalising casino gameplay.

The main reason for this is simple; with the state incredibly rich in resources and commerce, and therefore boasting a relatively small budget deficit when compared to other states.

Given that the primary reasoning for legalising online gambling is to create additional tax revenue and reduce existing budget deficits, there appears little motivation for lawmakers to give the green light to iGaming at present.

This is despite the socioeconomic impact of the coronavirus and continued spikes in cases, as Texas has been able to remain relatively open for business and managed its state finances with success during the last 18 months.

The Last Word

As the recent NIL legislation for college athletes proves, there’s always scope for laws and bills to change seemingly fixed circumstances and omni-present loopholes.

This will give to pro-gambling lobbyists in Texas, although this demographic will have to be incredibly patient if they intend to legalise iGaming verticals in the state.


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