epublican Rep. Dan Huberty and Democratic Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa each filed two matching bills in their respective chambers on Tuesday.
The move is the latest development in efforts to bring legal sports betting to the Lone Star State, with a lobbyist last month telling Legal Sports Report "something is going to happen in Texas ... the governor is interested and the legislature is interested."
Texas is one of the large, high-population states that could represent a profit windfall for online sports betting companies if it ever legalizes this type of gambling, NASDAQ reports.
Several casino and gambling enterprises have acquired fantasy sports platforms with users in New York, Texas, Florida, and California, to position themselves for eventual legalization there. Bally's Corporation bought fantasy sports company Monkey Knife Fight and Caesars Entertainment make a "strategic investment" with an option to acquire the SuperDraft platform late last month, in part for this reason.
Huberty's bill proposes "a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to legalize sports wagering in this state," and Hinojosa's proposed legislation lays out the rules regulating the activity.
Texas legalization could provide other online sports betting companies like DraftKings and Penn National Gaming with an outstanding opportunity to enter a major new gambling market. However, the attempt needs to navigate a political minefield before it has any chance of becoming law.
Gov. Dan Patrick noted two weeks ago he is not a supporter of legalized gambling in Texas and thinks any efforts toward it in this session will go bust.
"It’s not even an issue that’s going to see the light of day this session," Patrick told a radio show. "There may be a bill filed, but I doubt it."
The situation is complicated by an array of legalization opponents, ranging from church organizations concerned about moral issues to Oklahoma tribes worried about losing Texas gamblers' business. Patrick noted "there's so much infighting and competition here," though his prediction no sports gambling bill would be filed this session was proven wrong by Huberty's filing of HJR97 today.