Will Texas Legalize Sports Betting Any Time Soon?

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Although it’s home to the second largest population of any American state and commands the largest landmass in the contiguous USA, Texas has not yet allowed its citizens to participate in sports betting. That extends to both land-based establishments and their online counterparts, leaving enthusiasts of both sports and gambling facing a challenge to scratch their itch.

One option to circumvent the ban could be to visit an offshore operator, which isn’t strictly illegal according to the current legislation. There are a number of reputable reputable sports betting Texas sites sites that are based outside state lines, making the practice entirely legal. Alternatively, sports fans can simply wait until legislators take affirmative action to amend the current laws – but is that expected to happen any time soon?

A history of sports betting in Texas

Texas has consistently been one of the states most hostile to the prospect of sports betting for decades. Indeed, those in charge have always taken a dim view of gambling in general, even if the Texan people are increasingly in favor of legalizing the pastime. That explains why even though a proposal to amend the law has been raised in every session of the Texas Legislature bar one since 1993, it has always been defeated.

Most recently, this occurred twice this year when Republicans Harold Dutton and Dan Huberty put forward bills HB 1121 and HB 2070 respectively. Both were referred to the State Affairs Committee earlier in 2021, but the Legislature ran out of time before either could be properly considered. By design, the Legislature meets only every two years, which means that the earliest that sports betting could become a reality in Texas would be 2023.

Why is Texas so opposed to sports betting?

Texas has long been known as a Republican stronghold with entrenched conservative values, and all forms of gambling have been demonized by lawmakers as potentially leading to problematic behaviors and even crime. This is reflected in the structure of the state constitution, which means that the Legislature would have to vote in favor of overturning the ban by two to one to have any chance of succeeding. Such a possibility seems remote at present.

Meanwhile, it’s also clear that Texas simply doesn’t need sports betting in the same way that other states might do. Indeed, the biggest incentive for many state bodies to legalize the practice has been the enormous tax revenue that doing so can generate. With a large population, excellent resources and a history of austerity, Texas is a strong financial position, allowing it to turn its nose up at gambling in general and sports betting in particular.

What can Texans do to circumvent the problem?

Although it’s not currently possibility for Texans to visit a sportsbook, casino or other betting premises within the state borders – or visit an online operator based in Texas – there are ways that they can still lay wagers on their favorite sports. The exact phrasing of the current legislation means that using overseas sportsbooks isn’t illegal, so as long as you find a reputable site (such as those linked to above), you can bet safely and legally.

Of course, another alternative would be to simply hop in a car and drive over the border to a neighboring state which does allow the practice. Both Arkansas and New Mexico are viable possibilities in this respect and, depending on where exactly you live in Texas, can be reached within a matter of hours. But as for waiting for the law to change in the near future, it won’t be until 2023 at the very earliest that sports betting is allowed in the Lone Star State.


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