Ex-Gov. Rick Perry: Texas Sports Betting Fight Will Continue in 2025
Posted on: May 29, 2023, 06:11h.
Last updated on: June 1, 2023, 02:28h.
As expected, legislation to put the matter of sports wagering before Texas voters died upon advancing to the state Senate. But former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) remains optimistic the issue could be successful in 2025.
Now a spokesman for the Texas Sports Betting Alliance, Perry issued a statement today lauding State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) and Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) for their work on sports wagering legislation. The former Department of Energy secretary also highlighted the fact that the Texas State House voted 101-42 in favor of allowing voters to have a say on the issue. That vote took place earlier this month. Perry said Texas “made history” with that vote.
We know that Texans want the freedom and liberty our great state is known for, to participate in sports betting legally and safely,” added Perry in the statement. “We listened to the people and put forth legislation that would combat the $6 billion illegal market with commonsense regulation and protect Texans without growing the size and scope of government.”
Some research firms contend Perry has overstated the size of the black market for sports wagering in Texas. But as the second-largest state in the country, it likely has a substantial illegal sports betting market. That size also makes it one of the most coveted jurisdictions for regulated sportsbook operators.
Demise of Sports Betting in Texas Not Surprising
While various polls confirmed Texas voters favor — resoundingly in some cases — the addition of casinos and mobile sports betting in the state, the failures of related legislation aren’t surprising.
Entering 2023, industry observers, research firms and Texas political observers expected that while the matter of sports betting could gain momentum this year, it potentially faces better odds in 2025. Likewise, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R-TX) was strident in opposition to gaming expansion and consistently said the votes weren’t there in the Senate to advance sports wagering.
Obviously, he was correct in that prognostication because the subject wasn’t even brought to the Senate floor in the waning days of the state’s legislative session.
Because sports betting requires a constitutional amendment, which Texas voters would decide, the issue must be approved by two-thirds majorities in the state House and Senate. That bar was cleared in the House. But Patrick claimed it could not get there in the upper chamber.
Assessing 2025 Odds
Perry remains committed to getting sports betting across the finish line in the Lone Star state.
“Texans deserve the chance to vote on legalizing sports betting, and we will continue to work to put this initiative on the ballot in 2025,” he said in the statement.
It’s possible that with 2025 being the year after a presidential election year, sports betting could find an easier road to passage. However, the odds of success rest heavily with the political environment — namely, Patrick’s ambitions to potentially seek higher office in 2026. The governor’s office and one of two US Senate seats may be open in the 2026 midterm elections.
There are no guarantees that will happen, nor are there assurances Patrick will seek higher office. But if that’s on his mind, he could opt to solidify his conservative base by again standing in the way of sports betting in 2025.
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