The Texas House of Representatives has taken a significant step toward legalizing online sports betting by passing a constitutional amendment bill, HJR 102, with a vote of 101-42. The bill will now move on to the state’s Senate for further discussion. If approved, the amendment would not automatically legalize sports wagering but would allow a state-wide vote on the matter scheduled for November 7 this year.
Simultaneously, the House also approved the accompanying HB 1942 bill, which outlines the operational and regulatory aspects of the market. One key provision of the bill is imposing a 15% tax on adjusted gross sports wagering for licensed operators in Texas. This tax rate increased from the initial 10% following an approved amendment earlier in the week.
The Texas Lottery Commission would be responsible for granting licenses for sports betting and overseeing market regulation. Operators seeking a sports wagering permit would need to pay a non-refundable fee of $2.0 million. That would be reimbursed if their application is unsuccessful, minus any expenses incurred by the Commission during the process. Additionally, the Commission would offer service provider permits for $25,000 each for applicants wishing to collaborate with licensed operators in the state.
For the proposed bills to become law, they must secure voters’ approval. If successful, the new legislation would take effect on January 1, 2024.
Challenges on the way to legal online sports betting in Texas
However, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick expressed skepticism about the future of House Bill 1942. Patrick stated that the bill lacks support and will not progress through the Senate. In a tweet, he reiterated that there is limited backing from Senate GOP members for expanding gaming. Patrick emphasized that the Senate should focus on issues with overwhelming Republican party support. Additionally, he said that the Senate should avoid wasting time on bills that do not meet these criteria. As a result, he confirmed that HB 1942 would not be referred to the Senate.
I’ve said repeatedly there is little to no support for expanding gaming from Senate GOP. I polled members this week. Nothing changed. The senate must focus on issues voters expect us to pass. We don’t waste time on bills without overwhelming GOP support. HB1942 won’t be referred.…
— Office of the Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (@LtGovTX) May 13, 2023
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