Texas legislature looking to legalize casinos and sports betting

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A Texas senator introduced a bill aimed at amending the state constitution to allow gambling at a limited number of resorts and establishments licensed by a state gambling commission.

long way to go

Senator Carol Alvarado introduced bill TX SJR17 to amend the Texas constitution and legalize casinos two months before the start of the legislative session. The bill also envisages legalizing sports betting if the constitutional amendment is approved by two-thirds of legislative and state voters in a November 2023 referendum.

The news that Texas lawmakers are showing interest in legalizing casinos and sports betting is heartening for advocates of sports betting and gambling expansion, who couldn’t see an effort in 2022 because lawmakers failed to meet. And the legislative period is yet to come.

As of January 10, 2023, Lone Star State legislators have until May 29, 2023 to pass all bills, including those sponsored by Sen. Alvarado, TX SJR17, aimed at authorizing casino gaming and esports and regulate bets.

Short of details

Formulated as a proposal to “promote economic development and employment growth and provide tax breaks and funding for education and public safety… [by] Authorization and regulation of casino games [and] Approving Sports Betting,” the bill is sparse in detail, particularly in its part relating to the legalization of sports betting.

TX SJR17 will legalize slots and table games and introduces a 10% tax on table game gross gaming revenue and a 25% tax on slot machine gross gaming revenue. The bill does not propose a tax rate for sports betting. The bill also doesn’t state whether sports betting is happening in person, online, or both.

Assuming Senator Alvarado’s pre-tabled bill receives the approval of 66% of Texas legislators, the bill will go to the vote of Texas voters in November 2023 before going to Gov. Abbott’s desk for final signing off at an official start at the earliest sometime in 2024.

In early November, the issue of legalizing sports betting in Texas was brought to the fore in an interview with Caesars Entertainment sports director Kenneth Fuchs, who spoke about the impactful changes sports betting would bring to the state.

Last year, two bills, HB2070 and HJR97, both sponsored by Rep. Dan Huberty, were proposed Constitutional amendments to legalize sports bettingstalled and didn’t get a vote in either the Texas House of Representatives or Senate before the end of the 2021 legislative session, ending sports betting proponents’ hopes of an end to Texas come from the Dark Middle Ages.

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