The bill to legalize sports betting in Texas – HJR102 – has been officially passed by the Texas House of Representatives after a third reading.
Going into Thursday (May 11), the bill required 100 ‘yes’ votes’ to move out of the House and into the Senate, meaning three further supporters from the 97-44 verdict in Wednesday’s second reading were needed to clear the two-thirds threshold for amendments to the state constitution.
It proved to be a successful day in the end for Rep. Jeff Leach, who is carrying the House’s sports betting legislation, as the voting ended up 101-41 in his favor after a lengthy process which included malfunctioning machines and a verification vote.
The conjoining bill codifying the language for sports betting – HB1942 – which doesn’t require the same two-thirds majority, was also passed by a vote of 82-51.
Reacting to the vote, Jeremy Kudon, President of the Texas Sports Betting Alliance, said: “This is a huge day for Texas sports fans. For the first time ever, the Texas House considered and passed a bill to legalize sports betting.
“This vote leaves no room for doubt – legalizing sports betting is popular in the Lone Star State. Texans want and deserve the freedom to safely and legally bet on their favorite teams, and they are one chamber away from getting it.”
The bills will now pass through to the Senate, where they face an uncertain future, with the overriding sentiment remaining that final approval is unlikely.
However, there remains more hope for the sports betting bill than HJR155, a casino referendum that would allow a limited number of destination-resort style casinos in Texas.
The bill received 92 votes for and 55 votes against in its second reading on Wednesday, meaning eight further ‘yes’ votes are required to move to the Senate.
The third reading was supposed to take place on Thursday, but it was postponed three times before being delayed until noon on Friday by Rep. Charlie Geren.