There has been a renewed push in Texas to regulate casino gaming, and this move could pave the way for regulated sports betting in 2021. If sports betting is legalized in Texas, it will serve as the catalyst for the other two big states – California and Florida – to hasten the legal efforts into regulating the industry that has already seen over $3 billion in the monthly handle.
By population, Texas is the second-largest US state behind California, who is also yet to legalize the sports betting industry. In other words, the Lone Star State could potentially be the biggest sports betting market in the US. If Texas lawmakers pass the sports betting bill this year, it will surely write history in the country’s sports betting industry, catapulting the US monthly handle to break more new records.
However, if the lawmakers are not able to pass the bill in 2021, the state will have to wait until 2023 as the lawmakers see each other in odds numbered years.
Casino Gaming To Be First
Historically a conservative state, Texas lawmakers have dismissed gambling as a taboo until recently, with the first logical step being to legalize gambling in the Lone Star State. Texas has no commercial casinos, meaning a bill to expand casino gaming will be the first requirement.
Las Vegas Sands billionaire Sheldon Adelson has been canvassing for expanded legal casino gaming in the Lone Star State as he’s looking to expand his business into Texas. Adelson’s group has reportedly been active behind crafting the bill filed in November by Rep. Joe Deshotel, calling for retail gaming at up to nine locations. With Adelson-like formidable supporters behind the gaming industry, it appears to be a realistic chance for Texas to take the initiative, at least from casino expansion at the first stage.
The bill puts the Texas Lottery Commission as the regulator, levying an 18% tax on gross gaming revenue. The minimum age for gambling would be 18, and revenue from the industry would cover payments to the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. Discussion about expanding commercial casinos in Texas will take place later this month.
Sports Betting Soon to Follow
If Texas can adopt a casino expansion bill, sports betting could be realized as soon as this year. Las Vegas Sands lobbyist Andy Abboud said Texas is a worldwide destination and one of the leading potential markets in the entire world. During a conference organized by the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, he said, “Texas is considered the biggest plum still waiting to be out there in the history of hospitality and gaming.”
According to local news media sources, Las Vegas Sands hired ten lobbyists for the upcoming session for the state that has three tribal casinos and a few horse and greyhound racetracks. The bill would take effect December 1, 2021, calling for rules to be implemented by May 1, 2022.
Next Session to Start Tomorrow
The bill was pre-filed alongside a constitutional amendment that would appear on the 2021 ballot. According to the text of the bill, the proposed changes must be approved in order for the bill to take effect.
The next session will start this week, on January 12 and run until May 31, 2021. In Texas, the legislature convenes every other year, meaning if sports betting and casino gambling was not legalized this year, it does not have the potential to become a regulated industry until 2023. In any case, casino gaming expansion is the first step that is necessary to trigger the chain reaction leading to fully operational legal sports betting in the Lone Star State.