Texas House Advances Casino and Sports Betting Bills, Senate Hurdles Await

The two measures, House Joint Resolution 155 for casinos and House Joint Resolution 102 for sports betting received initial approval in the House but fell short of the necessary two-thirds majority to amend the Texas Constitution. Texas House Approves Casino and Sports Betting Proposals, Senate Approval Remains Uncertain The casino proposal was passed with a

The two measures, House Joint Resolution 155 for casinos and House Joint Resolution 102 for sports betting received initial approval in the House but fell short of the necessary two-thirds majority to amend the Texas Constitution.

Texas House Approves Casino and Sports Betting Proposals, Senate Approval Remains Uncertain

The casino proposal was passed with a vote of 92-51, while the sports-betting proposal received a vote of 97-44, the Texas Tribune reported. Both proposals face a May 12 deadline for final approval in the House before the legislative session concludes on May 29. However, even if they gain enough support in the House, the proposals are likely to face difficulties in the Senate, where Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has expressed a lack of support for expanding gaming.

Despite the challenges ahead, the House votes represent significant progress for gaming advocates, who have been actively lobbying for the expansion of gambling in Texas for the past two years. Las Vegas Sands, a major casino operator, has invested millions of dollars in lobbying efforts, television advertisements, and campaign contributions to support the cause.

Previously, the proposals to expand gambling had stalled in House committee hearings in 2021 and were not given hearings in the Senate. However, the sports-betting proposal has gained support from a coalition of professional sports teams in Texas and betting platforms. Representative Jeff Leach, the author of the legislation, expressed optimism about its chances of advancing out of the House.

A poll conducted by the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs in January showed that 75% of Texans support the constitutional amendment that would legalize casino and sports wagering in the state.

Debate Heats Up in Texas House Over Casino and Sports Betting Legislation

Opposition to the proposals came from various quarters. Representative Matt Shaheen voiced concerns about the potential increase in sex trafficking and domestic violence cases if casinos were legalized. Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, the head of the House Democratic Caucus, opposed both proposals, citing concerns about the rushed nature of the legislative process.

The casino legislation sparked extensive debate during the House session. The proposal aimed to establish at least eight licenses for casino gambling at resorts in Texas, with priority given to areas where horse racing is already authorized. 

The sports-betting legislation faced less contention, with its author, Representative Leach, arguing that it aimed to regulate existing illegal online sports betting rather than expanding gambling. The legislation received amendments that included the National Lacrosse League and increased the gaming tax from 10% to 15%.The Senate, however, poses a significant challenge to the expansion of gambling in Texas. Lieutenant Governor Patrick has consistently downplayed the prospects of such proposals in the Senate, noting the lack of support from other senators. While House Speaker Dade Phelan and Governor Greg Abbott have shown more openness to the idea, the road to legalizing casinos and sports betting in Texas remains uncertain.

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