Gaming interests try new approach in effort to bring sports betting to Texas

What’s the big deal with gaming in Texas? Well, with the exception of the Texas Lottery, gambling is mostly outlawed in the Lone Star State.

But the gaming business has long had its eye on Texas and the millions in revenue Texans could bring to the corporate bottom line.

That’s why this year, gaming saw a renewed push in Austin, and it comes with the blessing of the state’s hugely popular sports franchises.

Gaming has never gained much traction in Texas, but folks like Dylan do to it anyway.

“If you were to bet on sports, what would you bet on?” asked 25 News reporter Dennis Turner.

“Football, basketball, all of it, say whichever one has the best outcome probably,” said the man at a Harker Heights bar.

Experts believe sports betting stands the best chance in years of making it out of the Texas Legislature, because it has the backing of iconic Texas businesses.

“Every major sports team in Texas is in the Sports Betting Alliance. Who knows what goes on with the fans and sports betting better than these teams? You know, people are saying that if you were allowed, sports betting people are going to stay towards the ends of the game, going to be able to really interact with the teams more,” said Cara Gustafson of the Sports Betting Alliance, echoing exactly what team owners say.

“From our perspective, this is something that we view as a way to engage additional fans. We’re excited to see what that opportunity might present for us,” said Jason Rowley, president and CEO of the Phoenix Suns.

But opponents say sports teams have a “fox-henhouse” problem.

“I don’t know how you can look at it any differently when you actually realize what’s trying to happen with the sports teams wanting the licenses and, in essence, being in the house. There’s separation that would allow a sports book, which would be the sports entity itself, to place a wager on the other team to cover its bets,” said Rob Kohler of the Christian Life Commission, Baptist General Convention of Texas.

If gaming lobbyists don’t get their foot in the door this year, they’ll have to wait until 2023 for another try.
That’s two years of lost revenue from one of biggest and most important states in the county, making it a coveted jewel waiting to take its place in the crown.

“People are going to be placing bets on their mobile phones more than in person, and more than online,” said George Kliavkoff of MGM Resorts.

Sports teams hope we use their apps. In Cleveland, the Cavaliers have already announced a deal with “Betway”.

But first, Texas lawmakers must agree on terms, and voters must approve a change in the Texas constitution before any kind of gaming can advance.

With all the talk of online versus in-person, Dylan says old school rules.

“In-person all the way because you got to know what’s going on and got to have a fair bet. You know, online, everything kind of gets misconstrued,” he said.

He hopes the gaming business doesn’t get misconstrued as it tries a less flashy form of gaming in Texas, one that now has the nation’s legendary sports franchises behind it.

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