Lawmakers introduced a pair of identical bills into the Texas House and Senate today proposing online sports betting in the state overseen by the Texas Lottery Commission. Sen. Lois Kolkhorst and Rep. Jeff Leach introduced companion bills, SB 715 and HB 1942 on Monday.
The legislation has the backing of the Texas Sports Betting Alliance, which is a group of online operators, racetracks, and various Texas sports leagues. Given that involvement, it is unsurprising that the proposition is fairly industry-friendly.
The bill suggests a sports betting structure where licenses go to major sports teams as well as major golf courses like Golf Club of Houston and TPC San Antonio along with racetracks. There would be a $500,000 application fee for a license and the tax rate would be just 10%.
Additionally, the measure would allow for promotional credit deductions as well as carryover of negative revenue months into future months.
“I am proud to partner with Senator Kolkhorst in filing this important legislation. It will serve to promote freedom and liberty in Texas and protect our citizens from the illegal and increasingly dangerous sports betting market that preys on unsuspecting consumers, including minors, putting their personal and financial information at great risk,” Leach said in a statement.
Like the other sports betting and casino bills put forth in Texas this legislative session, this measure would need a two-thirds majority from both the House and the Senate, the approval of Gov. Greg Abbott, and a majority vote from Texas residents on the next ballot before it becomes a reality.
A similar measure with a low tax rate and online-only sports betting failed by record measure in California last fall. State tribes spent immense amounts of lobbying money to push against the measure. Tribes in Texas do not have the same pull, nor do they currently operate the same scope of gaming as their California counterparts. Some of the other Texas gaming bills and resolutions introduced this session do make an attempt to include tribal participation, but this effort is not one of them.