Texas Sports Betting Bill Paves Way for Pro Sports Teams to Operate Sportsbooks

A fresh attempt at legislation

A Republican lawmaker in Texas has filed a bill to legalize sports betting. If passed, it would allow the state’s professional sports teams to apply for sportsbook licenses.

seeks to legalize sports wagering in the Lone Star State starting January 1, 2022

Rep. Dan Huberty filed HB 2070 on Tuesday. The bill seeks to legalize sports wagering in the Lone Star State starting January 1, 2022. Huberty also filed House Joint Resolution 97, which will make onto a November ballot if approved by lawmakers. Texas voters would then have their say on the constitutional amendment to decriminalize sports betting.

Huberty’s legislation differs from that of most other legal US sports betting markets. Because of a law prohibiting commercial casino gambling in Texas, HB 2070 would permit professional sports teams, horse racetracks, and greyhound racetracks to apply for sportsbook licenses.

Exciting news for sports teams

Huberty’s proposal would pave the way for Texas’ 13 professional sports teams to host their own sportsbooks. It would make Texas one of just four jurisdictions with similar rules regarding professional sports teams. Only Illinois, Washington, D.C., and Virginia allow sports teams to either apply for sportsbook licenses themselves, or host sportsbooks within their venues.

Furthermore, the legislation would allow leagues to enter into revenue sharing deals with licensees. This would permit leagues to reach agreements with teams for a cut of sports betting revenue should they receive an operator license in the Lone Star State.

Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, and Texas Rangers have formed an alliance

As a result of its benefit to sports teams, HB 2070 has already garnered support in the professional sports world. As first reported by The Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, and Texas Rangers have formed an alliance to help push the bill forward.

HB 2070 does not just restrict licenses to professional sports teams. The bill would permit the state’s three horse racetracks to apply to host sportsbooks, in addition to Texas’ greyhound racetracks. This includes the Sam Houston Race Park, Retama Park, and Lone Star Park. The legislation only permits licensees to operate under one brand.

Two Texas bills with one aim

Texas legislator Rep. Harold Dutton proposed his own sports betting bill earlier in the year. However, the lawmaker took a different approach to that of Huberty when creating HB 1121.

Dutton’s bill would only legalize mobile sports wagering in the Lone Star State, potentially making Texas the second such market in the US. The legislation allows for only five operator licenses, with each licensee permitted up to two online brands. It also includes a favorable tax rate of 6.5%, below the 10% proposed in Huberty’s legislation.

Both bills will need to pass through the House and Senate if they have any hope of becoming law. Earlier this month, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick derailed hopes for sports betting backers after he said the Texas Senate does not support gambling expansion.

“We are nowhere close to having votes for it,” Patrick told Chad Hasty of KFYO radio.

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