Advocates of Texas sports betting got a small victory from Gov. Greg Abbott.
In an interview with USA Today, Abbott said he would not oppose any bill that aims to legalize sports betting in the Lone Star State. However, there are some stipulations.
Abbott will not stand for over-consumption of gambling
Speaking with USA Today, Abbott said the expansion of gambling, including sports betting, is just another form of entertainment. But the third-term Republican said he would not go for over-consumption of gambling.
Abbot said he does not want “gambling operations on every street corner, every 7-Eleven” or even inside airports in Texas. The governor’s comments are in with line previous statements he made last year.
A statement from Abbott’s press secretary to the Houston Chronicle, said:
“We don’t want slot machines at every corner store, we don’t want Texans to be losing money that they need for everyday expenses, and we don’t want any type of crime that could be associated with gaming. But, if there is a way to create a very professional entertainment option for Texans, Gov. Abbott would take a look at it.”
Gambling bills already filed
Currently, a pair of gambling bills are moving their way through the state legislature.
On Feb. 6, Sen. Lois Kolkhorst and Rep. Jeff Leach filed companion bills SB 715 and HB 1942 to legalize and regulate online sports betting.
Several professional sports teams, including Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, have thrown their support behind the bills.
In a statement released by the Sports Betting Alliance (SBA), Jones was quoted as saying:
“A legal and regulated sports betting market is what’s best for Texas and I applaud Sen. Kolkhorst and Rep. Leach for filing this legislation. It will give Texans the ability to decide for themselves if they want this activity safely regulated or continue to be conducted in the shadows by out-of-state betting platforms.”
Texas sports teams and national sportsbook operators make up the SBA.
Texas sports betting in 2024?
Regardless of the outcome, Abbott did say he would not stand for a gambling system that preys on lower-income individuals.
“We can’t have a system also that takes money out of the hands of people who need to be able to pay their bills and buy their food and have them lose out on gambling, where they then need to depend upon the state.”
Although Abbott’s willingness to let the legislative process unfold benefits advocates, it is still only half the battle. Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds vote from lawmakers and voter approval on Nov. 7, 2023. That means 2024 is the earliest sports betting could start in Texas.