Proposed Texas bills that would legalize and regulate online sports betting are now under review by the State Affairs Committee. Representative Jeff Leach, who authored the bill, appeared before the committee and urged them to support the proposed legislation, HB 1942, which would regulate sports wagering, and HJR 102, a proposed amendment to legalize sports betting in the state.
According to Leach, there are currently hundreds of thousands of Texans who place illegal sports bets online. Criminalizing online gambling only encourages more illegal activity, and regulating the industry could curb this trend. Leach believes that Texas residents deserve the opportunity to vote on this issue and have a say in whether or not they want to legalize the practice.
The proposed bill would require operators to apply for a license costing $500,000. Sports franchises, including the Dallas Cowboys, may obtain a license to offer online sports betting. Jason Cohen, a legal counsel for the Dallas Cowboys, spoke to the committee and expressed the team’s interest in providing a safe and responsible platform for fans to place bets.
The Texas Sports Betting Alliance, made up of various professional sports teams, supports the bill. Additionally, online sports betting businesses such as DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Barstool are also backing the proposed legislation.
However, there are those who are opposed to the bills, including Jonathan Covey, policy director for Texas Values, who argues that gambling can be addictive and harmful to families. He feels that those who are already struggling financially will be disproportionately affected. Texas Against Gambling, a grassroots organization, also opposes the legislation.
The committee has not yet taken any action on the bills, and for it to move forward, it must first be approved by the committee. If approved, the bills will go to the floor for voting. The proposed legislation offers an opportunity for Texas to modernize its gambling laws and bring a thriving industry to the state.