Sports betting still prohibited in Texas and Oklahoma
(KTEN) — Sports betting is legal in 30 states. Massachusetts just needs the governor’s signature to become number 31.
But wagering on sports remains prohibited in both Texas and Oklahoma.
The Sooner State made an effort to legalize it earlier this year, but that initiative ultimately failed. In 2001, a similar measure in Texas was unsuccessful.
Texomans don’t need money on the line to root for their team in the Red River Showdown, but sports wagering expert David Clement said making bets legal can have some benefits.
“Consumers are already placing bets in the illegal market in Texas and they are largely doing so via offshore books that appear to be legal," he said. "They have the appearance of legality, but they are not necessarily legal."
Oklahoma is home to the NBA Thunder, while Dallas, Houston and San Antonio all host major league sports teams in Texas. So the potential in the Lone Star State is huge.
“It’s relatively business friendly, it has lower taxes, it generally creates competitive markets where it can,” Clement said.
If Texas wants to join more than half of the U.S. states that have given the thumbs up to sports betting, Clement said Texas should follow in the footsteps of New Jersey.
“Since they launched their legal market, they’ve generated over $229 million in state tax revenue,” he said. “That goes to pay for schools, roads.”
Mann influential people in Texas — like Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, and even Gov. Greg Abbott — are warming up to the idea of legal sports betting. But Texas Sen. Drew Springer (R-District 30) said it will take a little more to make the change.
“Currently gambling of all sorts is illegal in the state of Texas — short of bingo — and that’s in our Texas Constitution,” Springer said. “So if we want to change that, it’s something that not only the Legislature would have to pass, but also the voters would have to pass.”
Springer said lawmakers can only do so much with legalizing sports betting unless they know the true interest.
“What we would like to do is hear from constituents. That’s what we are; we are representatives, so we really want to know people's opinions,” Springer said. “I’ve had a couple handfuls of people that have written to me over the last few years saying they would like to be able to do online sports betting, but I haven’t heard from an awful lot of people.”
We took to Facebook to see how Texoma feels about sports betting. A slight majority in our unscientific survey said they didn’t care either way, but responses show those in favor outnumbered those against.
Even if voters call for change, it’ll be a little while before anything passes through the Texas or Oklahoma legislatures. The next session for both states will begin in 2023.