Dallas Cowboys and Mavericks, Texas Rangers Cheerleading for State Sports Betting Bill

Posted on: February 8, 2021, 04:28h. 

Last updated on: February 8, 2021, 05:15h.

The NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and the NBA’s Mavericks, and MLB’s Texas Rangers are throwing their weight behind a bill that would legalize sports betting in the Lone Star State.

Texas sports betting
Cheerleaders at the Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium. Can Texas pro sports teams convince the legislature to take a chance on sports betting? (Image: Dallas Cowboys)

The Dallas Morning News reports that more Texas pro teams are expected to join the campaign to back the bill, which will soon be introduced by State Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston)

Professional sports leagues and teams were previously resistant to the idea of legal and regulated sports betting. That’s because they felt it could compromise the integrity of their games. But since the US Supreme Court rejected the federal prohibition on sports betting in 2018, they’ve fully embraced the economic opportunities that have suddenly become available – at least in participating states.

Texas Sports Betting a Heavy Lift?

So, can the Cowboys et al convince the Texas legislature to come on board in this notoriously gamble-shy state?

The News found that the consensus among Austin insiders is that sports betting may be a longshot, but it has a better chance than casino gaming does this year. In recent months, LVS has upped its efforts to build a high-end casino resort in the state, spending millions supporting Republican lawmakers, and is preparing for a massive lobbying blitz.

Texas usually gets a couple of casino bills a year, but these are generally throttled to death in committee.

“My view is that Texas is going to be one of the 10 last states to allow gambling,” said Matt Mackowiak, a GOP consultant and chairman of the Travis County Republican Party, to The News. “I do think [sports betting is] is a lighter lift, and it may be where they end up.”

While Hubert’s bill has not been published, it would legalize sports betting to anyone 21 or older, and would include a minimum 10 percent hold. Betting on college sports would be permitted.

$2.5 Billion Gambled Out of State

Legalizing sports betting in Texas would require an amendment to the state constitution, which means it would need approval from two-thirds of the legislature. It would then need to be approved by a public referendum.

Most gambling is illegal in Texas apart from charitable bingo, the lottery, and a smattering of pari-mutuel racing.

The Kickapoo Nation operates the state’s only gaming facility, offering slot-like bingo machines. Attempts by Texas’s two other federally recognized tribes, the Alabama-Coushatta and the Tigua Pueblo, to establish gaming has been met with fierce legal resistance from the state.

A recent study found that Texans spend at least $2.5 billion annually at out-of-state casinos.

“Unregulated and illegal sports gambling is already taking place in the State of Texas,” said Charlotte Jones, the Dallas Cowboys’ executive vice president and chief brand officer, to The News. “Legalized sports betting would regulate the industry and generate hundreds of millions of dollars of new revenue for the state, which will help fund critical programs without raising taxes.”