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Houston Chronicle Op Ed: Mattress Mack: It’s time for the Texas Legislature to legalize sports betting

Jim “Mattress Mack’’ McIngvale

March 9, 2021Updated: March 9, 2021 12:41 p.m.

Mattress Mac, Jim McIngvale, is photographed with fans before Game 4 of the World Series at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019.
Karen Warren, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

In early February, I hopped on a plane, flew to Colorado and placed a bet on the Super Bowl on my smartphone at the airport. Why Colorado? Because sports betting is illegal in Texas.

I enjoy watching my favorite teams play, and I have placed millions in legal sports bets in other states. While my Super Bowl bet was successful, many of my wagers have not been so successful, and those bets were taxed to benefit the people living in those states.

As a proud Texan, I would much rather have the tax revenue from my bets directly benefit the people of Texas.

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The Texas Tribune: Legislation backed by casino giant would allow casinos, sports gambling in Texas

Las Vegas Sands is pushing to create the opportunity for casinos at “destination resorts” in the state’s four largest metropolitan areas.

Craps players at the Bellagio hotel and casino in Las Vegas. Lawmakers filed legislation Tuesday seeking to bring casino gambling to Texas. Credit: REUTERS/Steve Marcus

Two Texas lawmakers on Tuesday filed legislation backed by the gaming empire Las Vegas Sands that would legalize casino gambling in Texas.

The legislation was filed by Rep. John Kuempel, R-Seguin, in the House and Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, in the Senate. Rep. Toni Rose, D-Dallas, was later added as a joint author on the House proposal.

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The Dallas Morning News: Bipartisan legislation filed to legalize casino gambling, sports betting in Texas

Dallas would be the top destination for a casino resort if the bills become law.

A woman plays a slot machine at a casino in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Sands wants to bring casinos to Texas and is backing legislation to overturn the state’s ban on gambling.(Wong Maye-E)

Updated at 1:12 p.m. with statements from the Sports Betting Alliance and Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston.

AUSTIN — Two state lawmakers are backing bipartisan legislation that seeks to legalize casino gambling and sports betting in Texas.

The bills by state Rep. John Kuempel, R-Seguin, and Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, would allow four casino resorts to be built in Austin, the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Houston and San Antonio and would also legalize sports wagering. The state’s three federally-recognized Indian tribes would also be able to expand full-fledged gambling, including slot machines, on their land, a right the state has long denied them.

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The Dallas Morning News: Dallas Cowboys, Mavericks, and Texas Rangers help launch coalition to legalize sports betting

The Sports Betting Alliance wants Texas voters to decide whether the state Constitution’s ban on sports wagering should be overturned.

Signage at the DraftKings Sportsbook at The Brook ribbon cutting on October 23, 2020 in Seabrook, New Hampshire. A coalition of pro teams and mobile sports betting platforms want to legalize similar wagering in Texas. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images for DraftKings/TNS)(Scott Eisen / TNS)

AUSTIN — The state’s biggest sports teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers and Dallas Mavericks, are mounting a major new effort to legalize sports betting in Texas, The Dallas Morning News has learned.

The Sports Betting Alliance said it has the backing of several Texas pro teams, including the Dallas Stars and FC Dallas. In exclusive interviews, the alliance, a coalition of these franchises and betting platforms, told The News it is backing legislation to let Texans vote on whether to undo the state’s ban on sports betting. More Texas teams will be announced as alliance members in the coming days.

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PRESS RELEASE: House and Senate Bills Filed Regulating Sports Betting in Texas, Backed by Alliance of Professional Sports Teams and Betting Platforms

 A simple regulatory framework will give consumers the freedom and safety to participate in the games they love. 

 AUSTIN, Texas – Today, Rep. Dan Huberty filed HB 2070/HJR 97, and Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa filed SB 736/SJR 39 to legalize and regulate sports betting in Texas. The legislation seeks to amend the Texas Constitution and allow Texans to vote on the issue on the November ballot. The legislation is supported by the newly announced Sports Betting Alliance comprised of professional Texas sports teams, racetracks, betting platforms, and fans. 

“Texans have a strong sense of independence, value their individual liberty, and want the freedom to make their own choices,” said Cara Gustafson, spokesperson for the Sports Betting Alliance. “The decision about whether to legalize sports betting or participate in sports betting should be left up to each Texan without government interference.” 

“Today, I introduced HB 2070/HJR 97 to give Texans the freedom to decide whether to legalize and regulate sports betting in our state. Sports betting is happening illegally in Texas right now and it is important for the state to take control. By implementing efficient state oversight of sports betting, we will allow Texans to safely engage with the sports they love while creating a new revenue stream to support education and other important state programs,” said Representative Huberty. 

The state of Texas is facing a nearly $1 billion budget deficit for the 2022-2023 biennium. Allowing sports betting would create a new revenue stream to help fill this gap, bringing in as much as $180 million for Texas’ next budget and up to $400 million per budget cycle in the long-term to significantly benefit the people of Texas. 

“I look forward to working with my legislative colleagues to give voters the right to decide whether sports betting should be legalized in Texas. Not only will a thoughtful, legal framework preserve the

integrity of sports and protect consumers, it will raise as much as $1.8 billion over 10 years in much-needed revenue to support vital state programs,” said Senator Hinojosa. 

“Illegal sports betting is growing in Texas, with an estimated $5 billion in illegal bets placed each year. Since Texans are already participating in sports betting, we should implement efficient oversight to protect consumers, preserve the integrity of sporting events, and allow law enforcement to hold bad actors accountable,” finished Gustafson. 

The Alliance consists of professional Texas sports teams as well as betting platforms and racetracks including:

  • Austin FC 
  • Dallas Cowboys 
  • Dallas Mavericks 
  • Dallas Stars 
  • Dallas Wings 
  • FC Dallas 
  • Houston Astros 
  • Houston Dynamo FC 
  • Houston Dash 
  • Houston Rockets 
  • Houston Texans 
  • San Antonio Spurs 
  • Speedway Motorsports 
  • Texas Rangers 
  • PGA TOUR 
  • BetMGM 
  • DraftKings 
  • FanDuel 
  • Penn National Gaming Inc. 
  • theScore 

To learn more about the Sports Betting Alliance or to schedule an interview, please visit sportsbettingalliance.org/texas/ or contact Cara Gustafson at the contact information above.

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