Perry Still Optimistic on Texas Sports Betting Future

Former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) remains bullish on the prospects for regulated sports wagering in Texas, noting that if the issue is put to voters, it will pass in resounding fashion.

Texas sports betting
Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry (left) seen with President Trump. Perry is still bullish on sports betting in Texas. (Image: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

In recent comments on the “World Series of Politics” podcast, the former US energy secretary said legislation introduced last month by State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) is likely the best option for bringing sports wagering to the country’s second-largest state. There’s a companion bill in the state House introduced by Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano).

The bills introduced by the legislators have some bipartisan support and would legalize sports betting in the state via a constitutional amendment. Comparable to bills introduced two years ago that ultimately failed, the Kolkhorst and Leach bills propose a 10% tax on sports betting revenue.

Under those proposals, license holders would also pay a $500K fee. Professional sports teams in Texas would hold master permits, allowing them to partner with sportsbook operators. Golf courses that hold professional tournaments, of which there are several in the state, and Class 1 pari-mutuel facilities would also be eligible for the master license designation.

The bills propose alterations to the Texas constitution, meaning two-thirds majorities in both chambers are required for passage. If that happens, the issue would be put directly to voters in November.

Perry Betting on Texas Sports Betting

Perry has been in politics since 1984 and was governor of Texas from 2000 to 2015, so he’s seen a lot in the state’s political arena, making his outlook on sports wagering in the state pertinent.

There’s never been this coming together, to work on one issue [before],” he said on the “World Series of Politics” podcast. “I’ve been in politics since around 1984, so I’ve seen a lot of interesting efforts but this one caught my attention for a number of reasons.”

He estimates the state could garner $500 million in revenue from sports betting, potentially setting the stage for the easing of property taxes and more capital for education and infrastructure projects.

He joined the Sports Betting Alliance — a group comprised of professional sports franchises in Texas and gaming companies — last year as a spokesman. Barstool Sportsbook, BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel are among the gaming operators in that consortium.

Perry believes Texans’ devotion to sports bodes well for the issue of sports wagering easily passing at the ballot box.

“I feel comfortable that once it becomes a constitutional amendment and the people of the state have a chance to look at it, it will pass,” he said in the interview. “And I think it will pass rather overwhelmingly.”

Texas Sports Betting Faces Time Crunch

With sports betting bills already failing in some marquee states such as Georgia, success in Texas could be a major boon for the industry’s 2023 legislative prospects. Time is, however, a factor.

The 2023 legislative session in Texas started on January 10 and runs through May 29, meaning there are roughly two and half months in which the House and Senate can deal with sports betting. That timeline is somewhat challenging because the chambers won’t be in session on Good Friday (April 7) or Memorial Day (May 29).

There’s also the matter of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — a Republican who’s long opposed gaming expansion in Texas. He’s president of the state Senate, giving him sway to prevent bills from coming to the floor. If he’s not warm to the idea of sports betting, it could be a dead issue in Texas until 2025 because 2024 is an election year.

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