Legal Sports Betting In Texas

Hasan Nabulsi
Texas Sports Betting

Updated on June 12, 2020

While many in the state would love to see it happen, legal sports betting in Texas is still far from becoming a reality.

Texas is on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to legislative efforts to legalize sports betting and overall gambling expansion. This year has been no different, with no sports betting bills introduced by lawmakers.

The deep-seated southern baptist culture, mixed in with constitutional roadblocks, makes it almost impossible for a House or Senate member to get a bill signed into law. 

But, Texas sports betting bills have been introduced in the past and might be introduced again. 

With world-renowned sports franchises like the Dallas Cowboys and nationally recognized collegiate sports teams like the Texas Longhorns, the money that could be made from sports betting is undeniable. This alone could sway residents and legislators toward legalization.

Texas Sports Betting Timeline

2019

The first effort to bring legal sports betting in Texas came on February 1, 2019. That was when House Bill 1275 was introduced by Rep. Eddie Lucio, III (D-38). However, that piece of legislation was doomed from the start.

At first glance, the bill aimed to allow for online sportsbooks in Texas. This is a good thing since Texas does not have any casinos. But a closer look at the bill pointed to major flaws. 

The biggest of these flaws was a 6.25% tax on the total handle a sports betting operator collected per month. Of the 23 states that have legalized sports betting, none have set a tax on the handle. Instead, they implement a tax on the revenue generated by the sportsbook.

Other political factors also crushed any hope of it passing. 

The legislature in Texas is primarily made up of Republicans who oppose any sort of gambling expansion. Having a sports betting bill come from a Democrat was enough to ignore. 

The bill needed to get a two-thirds vote of the legislature in order to put it on the ballot. Instead, the bill was sent to the House Committee of Licensing & Administrative Procedures where it never received a hearing or saw the light of day. 

2020

People who live outside of Texas may not know, but the legislature only meets on odd-numbered years. 

Being that 2020 is an even-numbered year, it is no surprise why Texas sports betting has not seen any national attention. 

There has been no indication as of yet what the legislature plans to do in 2021. But, with the COVID-19 pandemic hurting the economy in 2020, lawmakers may look to new revenue streams like sports betting to recover those lost funds.

Sportsbooks In Texas

There are currently no sportsbooks in Texas. As a matter of fact, there is only one casino in the entire Lone Star State. 

That casino is called the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino in Eagle Pass. The only reason it’s able to operate is that it is on federally protected tribal land. They have not shown any indication that they would like to pursue opening a Texas sportsbook.

Efforts to open casinos or any sort of gambling venues in Texas have been met with immediate resistance and that doesn’t seem to be likely to change in the near future. 

Those looking to bet on sports in Texas will need to make the trip to a neighboring state such as Arkansas or New Mexico as both of these states have legal sportsbooks.

Online Sports Betting Sites In Texas

There are no sports betting sites in Texas. The closest thing to it is daily fantasy sites such as DraftKings. These sites like this are not regulated by the state of Texas but still accept and welcome players from Texas with impunity. 

The only bill introduced to legalize sports betting in Texas sought to award licenses to companies like DraftKings and FanDuel. 

While that bill didn’t gain much traction, another bill can be introduced in 2021 that includes mobile sports betting apps in Texas but has better rules to go along with it. 

Texas Sports Betting FAQs

When Will Texas Legalize Sports Betting?

The soonest that it can be legalized is in 2021. However, it’s not guaranteed that it will happen. Two-thirds of the state legislature will have to approve a voter referendum in the 2021 legislative session and after that residents will have to pass it on their ballot. Given legislators’ previous sentiments on gambling expansion, it could be years before this comes to fruition.

Can I Bet On The Texas Longhorns Or Other College Teams?

No, betting on college teams in Texas or any sports teams for that matter is still not legal. Past sports betting bills introduced in the state legislature sought to ban this as well.

Can I Play Daily Fantasy Sports In Texas?

Yes, the biggest DFS operators in the nation will accept Texas residents including DraftKings, FanDuel, and Yahoo.

How Much Money Would Texas Sports Betting Generate?

According to Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, a gambling industry research firm, the Texas sports betting market would be the second-largest in the nation. In 2019, the firm estimated Texas could generate $1.2 billion in annual revenue, and with an industry average of a 10% tax, it would net the state $120 million in additional funding.