Look at the key points in latest push to legalize mobile sports betting in Texas

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Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Breaking down factors of new Texas legal gambling bill
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There's a renewed attempt at legalizing gambling with a new sports wagering bill. So what are the keys to it? ABC13 breaks it down.

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- According to the American Gaming Association, 50.4 million adults in our country - roughly 20% of the population, are expected to wager on Sunday's Super Bowl. A survey shows approximately $16 billion will be bet.

Zero cents will come from Texas.

Of the 33 states to offer live, legal sports gambling - Texas is not among them. However, this week, Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) filed SB715 and SJR 39, and Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) filed HB 1942 and HJR 102 to legalize and regulate mobile sports betting in the Lone Star State.

SEE ALSO: Sports-betting advocates return to Capitol with narrower bill, new Republican author

The legislation is supported by the Texas Sports Betting Alliance - comprised of Texas professional sports franchises, including the Astros, Rockets, Texans, Dynamo, and Dash.

"There's very strong public support for online and in-person sports betting in Texas," political expert Mark Jones told ABC13 Tuesday. "More than two-thirds of Texans support it, and that's a bipartisan consensus."

Jones, a Baker Institute fellow in political science at Rice University, says Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a longtime opponent of legalized gambling, holds to keys to whether or not this latest legislation will pass.

SEE ALSO: University of Houston conducts survey to see if Texans back major changes to state's gambling laws

"The Texas House supports casino and online gambling, Gov. Greg Abbott supports casino and online gambling - it's only the Senate, where Dan Patrick runs the show, that is blocking it right now," Jones explained.

Kolkhorst, the author of SB 715, is a close ally of Patrick, according to Jones.

"She's carried many important bills for the lieutenant governor in the Senate, including those where she took a lot of flak for doing so," Jones said of Kolkhorst. "So the fact she's filing this bill is a signal the lieutenant governor at least hasn't shut the door completely on the idea of online sports betting. At the end of the day, if Patrick says he's in favor of neutral towards the casino, gambling, or online gambling, we'll see it passed."

If the sports wagering legislation does clear both the House and the Senate and then receives the green light from Abbott, Texas voters would see it on a ballot as a constitutional amendment on Nov. 7, 2023.

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