Legal Gambling Could Bring Texas Windfall


A sports betting chart | Image by Shutterstock

(The Center Square) – A bill filed by Texas state Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, would make casino gaming and sports wagering legal in the state’s largest cities and tax the revenue it generates.

“Based on past legislation, most of that [tax] money will go into the public education fund and that would lead to property tax easement for many residents,” PlayTexas.com managing editor Tyler Andrews told The Center Square of the more than $30 billion in bets and $2 billion in gross gaming revenue the state is projected to pocket in its first full year of operation if it legalizes sports gambling.

“The legislative session here in Texas just got under way and I would say it looks like there is a good chance sports gambling will get more attention than what it has in the past, making it to the floor and even getting some hearings,” Andrews added.

Texas has some of the strictest laws in the country against gambling, but both Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dale Phelan said they would be open to some forms of legalization.

If Texas does, reaching the revenue projections cited by PlayTexas would easily make Texas home to the largest sports betting market in the country, surpassing even New York and potentially generating up to $360 million in tax funding for the state.

Andrews said PlayTexas’ projections are based on a pair of models that factor differences in tax rate, promotional deductions and the likelihood of retail casinos with sportsbooks, adding that it’s not surprising to him that lawmakers this year seem far more open to the possibilities of legalized sports wagering. Lawmakers in 2021 rejected a bill that would have legalized sports betting

“It comes down to how much illegal sports betting is already going on in state and just legalizing what is already going on,” he said. “Plus, the number of people going out of town to gamble is rising. I think the politicians realize what they’re dealing with and are just trying to reign in what is already happening. People here love sports and there are a lot of sports to bet on.”

Andrews argues a majority of Texas residents support legalized sports betting.

“We ran a survey and found that almost 60% of Texans want to see expanded gambling, especially casino gambling,” he said. “The taste is there, and that’s similar to what we’ve seen in other surveys as well.”

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