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Texas sports betting and casino gambling bill gets green light

Texas gambling news - sports betting bill gets House approval

The Texas House committee have given initial approval to measures legalizing online sports betting and destination resort-style gaming venues in the state.

While the bills received approval on Wednesday, they did not get up to the 100 votes needed for final passage out of the chamber and into the Senate. The decision to allow sports wagering in the state and expand casinos will be ultimately left to Texas voters because the bills seek to amend the state’s constitution.

House Joint Resolution 155, the proposal to build destination resort-style casinos in Texas, passed by a vote of 92-51. Fort Worth Republican Representative Charlie Geren authored the bill, which will see gaming venues built alongside amenities like restaurants, hotels, shopping centers, and meeting spaces.

The online sports betting bill, House Joint Resolution 102, was introduced by Rep. Jeff Leach, a Plano Republican, and received a 97-44 vote on Wednesday. An accompanying measure on the potential sports betting regulations was approved via an 84-52 vote.

As constitutional amendments, the measures will need a two-thirds majority vote by Thursday, when they are expected to be considered for final passage.

According to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the bills may face issues in the Senate as there is currently insufficient support. Regardless, they have a Friday deadline to receive the House approval before the legislative session’s conclusion on May 29.

The consideration for Geren’s accompanying bill, House Bill 2843, was pushed till Thursday.

The House votes are the most progress made by gaming advocates in the past two years. Gaming operators like Las Vegas Sands have notably spent millions on TV ads, lobbyists, and campaign contributions.

During the Wednesday session, Geren informed the committee that gamblers in Texas had resorted to traveling to bordering states to place bets. He added that approving the casino bill would provide Texas with a new revenue stream and several thousand job opportunities.

The state will receive a 15% tax on casino gross gaming revenue, which will be allocated to public safety and education funds. Under the measure, a maximum of eight destination resort-style casinos will be allowed in Texas.

Two will be located in Dallas-Fort Worth, two in the Houston area, while San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and McAllen will all have one casino each.

The last gaming venue will be in an unspecified location and must be selected via an open bid. It will be located in a Texas county that approves casinos, at least 100 miles from other gaming venues’ cities.

The measure was amended to include a gaming venue in the Austin area, which replaced the open-bid casino. Another change placed the McAllen casino in the Brownsville-Harlingen area and added a casino to a site that could receive a racetrack license from the Texas Racing Association.

The casino bill will permit negotiations on a tribal-state compact. This will allow Texas’ three federally recognized tribes to broaden the kinds of games offered in tribal casinos to casino-style titles.

Under the bill, no person or gaming firm can operate more than two destination resort-style casinos.

A similar bill to the sports betting bill was filed in the Senate but is yet to receive a committee hearing. Leach claimed that approving the bill would reduce illegal betting on unregulated apps on mobile phones and online.

Under the measure, the legal wagering age is 21, and betting on youth sports is prohibited. Computer terminals in clubs or similar locations will be banned for the primary use of sports betting.

The bill was amended to increase the 10% net revenue tax on sports betting operators to 15%. Two percent of the sum will be allocated to funding programs for problem gaming and addiction, while the Texas Education Agency for property tax relief will receive most of it.

The Texas Sports Betting Alliance, a coalition of professional sports teams in Texas, have expressed their support for the bill.

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