Texas Sports Betting: 2 Bills Pass 1st House Committee, But Fates Remain Bleak

texas sports betting pass first house committee (1)

For the first time, a committee of Texas state lawmakers approved a pair of digital sports bills, but the fate of legalized gambling in the Lone Star State remains in doubt. 

The House State Affairs Committee on Monday voted 9-3 in favor of both mobile sports wagering, which are sponsored by Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano). 

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he is not optimistic about the long-term fate of either bill. 

Matt Hirsch: ‘We Are One Step Closer’

The two bills – HB 1942 and HB 2843 – now move forward to the Calendars Committee. When the association meets, it will determine if one or both bills go to the House floor. 

Recent bills intended to bring legalized sports betting to Texas failed to make it out of a single House committee. Along with creating a digital sports wagering market, Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) is promoting the concept of bringing eight resort casinos to the state. 

“The efforts to bring destination resorts to Texas made significant progress with today’s vote,” Texas Destination Resort Alliance spokesman Matt Hirsch said, as reported by The Dallas Morning News. “Texans have made it clear that they want destination resorts in Texas, and we are now one step closer to ultimately allowing them to decide on this issue.” 

 Not so fast. 

While the first hurdle was cleared and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dade Phelan are on record for backing the two bills, Patrick acknowledged the state Senate is shy of the votes needed to get it to Abbott’s desk. 

For one or both bills to move beyond the Senate, 21 members need to approve it.  

“We don’t have the votes for casinos,” Patrick told The Dallas Morning News recently. “There are not enough votes for sports betting, and I don’t think that’s going to change.”