A pair of gambling-related bills in Texas passed through the House State Affairs Committee on Monday afternoon. HJR 102 and its enabling legislation, HB 1942, as well as HJR 155 and its enabling legislation, HB 2843, each cleared the committee and will wait for future discussion and a possible vote on the House floor.
Each bill received a favorable vote of 9-3. The committee previously held a lengthy hearing without a vote to discuss the pros and cons of expanded wagering in the state.
The bills take different routes to bringing sports wagering to Texas. HB 1942 is a mobile-only sports betting bill with an application fee of $500,000 and a tax rate of 10% on adjusted gross revenue. Bill sponsor Rep. Jeff Leach said previously that he’s open to negotiation and feedback on the tax rate.
HB 2843 calls for the creation of “destination resorts” — essentially casino resorts with sports betting — across the state. The bill includes language that could bring these resorts to the state’s existing horse tracks.
Don’t bet on gambling expansion
Despite incremental progress, Texas is not expected to legalize sports betting in 2023. In fact, there are a plethora of reasons why legal sports betting likely won’t come to the state in the immediate future.
New: Texas House State Affairs has passed the mobile sports betting bill and the constitutional amendment by @leachfortexas.
Votes were 9-3 on both.
Bill now heads to House Calendars committee to see if it will go to House Floor. #txlege
— Aarón Torres (@AaronTorres_) April 3, 2023
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made a March 28 appearance on The Mark Davis Show, suggesting gambling efforts this legislative session are all but over and that there’s little to no support in the Senate.
“Our members have been clear: They’re not in support today. We don’t have any votes in the Senate for a casino bill. … Couldn’t find one Senator who supported it,” Patrick said.
For either bill to pass through the House or Senate, it would need a two-thirds majority since legalizing wagering in Texas requires a constitutional amendment. That doesn’t seem likely, especially since Patrick says he doesn’t have any interest in even attempting to move a bill in the Senate unless a majority of Republicans support it.
“I need to have consensus by the Republicans, otherwise it’s a bill that the Democrats are passing,” Patrick said. “We don’t do that in the Senate.”