There was some excitement in the sports betting industry earlier this year when Dan Huberty’s bill HB 2070 was put before the House State Affairs Committee in Texas. If the bill had passed, it would have allowed voters in the state to decide whether to legalize sports betting during the November ballot this year.
Huberty stated that the bill would help the state to capitalize on the popularity of betting, and gambling in general, in Texas. There is no doubt that many people in Texas have an appetite for legal online gambling opportunities, many other states have legalized it recently, full list of which states can be seen here. If the bill had passed, sports and betting fans could have voted to allow professional sports operators to act as sportsbooks. This in turn would allow the state to benefit from taxation on sportsbooks’ revenue.
Huberty suggested that around $5 billion of illegal bets are placed in Texas each year. He went on to say that legalizing sports betting could raise $180 million in new revenue over the following two-year budget cycle. This money could be spent on education and health.
Dan Huberty’s HB 2070 bill stalled
Despite backing from big names in the betting industry, and a big appetite for sports in Texas, Dan Huberty’s bill stalled. This means that there is no opportunity for the issue to be addressed again until 2023 unless Gov. Greg Abbott requests that the legislature addresses the potential legalization of sports betting during a special session.
Why the resistance to legalized sports betting in Texas?
At the end of the day, there was not enough support for bill HB 2070 to enable it to pass. The bill was also opposed by powerful politician Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick which had a big impact. The lack of success for the bill was a disappointment for Huberty and his supporters. However, this may not be the end of the story.
Will the situation change in 2023?
Even though supporters were unsuccessful in securing a vote on the legalization of sports betting, they did make significant headway in 2021, by bringing the issue into the headlines. A potential market framework was also discussed, and lawmakers were educated.
This is a solid foundation for further efforts to be made during the next regular state legislature sitting, in 2023. At this point, it’s likely that supporters of the legalization of betting will build on the framework suggested this year and make efforts to secure a referendum in the state.
There is no guarantee that such a public vote would lead to the legalization of sports betting. However, given the undoubted appetite for gambling in Texas, there is certainly a possibility that this will happen.
If legal betting is introduced, it will open the door on significant amounts of new revenue to the state. It will also provide more secure opportunities for sports fans in Texas to place bets on their favorite teams and players.