Texas bill would let professional teams become licensed sportsbook operators

A new bill that would legalise sports betting in the state of Texas would allow professional sports teams to act as licensed sportsbook operators.

If the proposed law is successful, it would decriminalise sports wagering and legalise the activity from 1 January 2022.

The proposed bill

The bill, HB 2070, was filed by Republican Representative Dan Huberty and would aim to decriminalise sports wagering in the state of Texas.

If successful, the bill would also permit mobile sports betting which would see adjusted gross revenues taxed at a rate of 10%.

Huberty’s sports betting proposal would allow professional sports teams to become licensed sportsbook operators or host a sportsbook at their arena. Three other jurisdictions – Illinois, Virginia and Washington DC – have rules that allow sports teams to host sportsbooks.

In Texas, there are 13 professional teams across MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL, NWSL, and WNBA which would create several opportunities for sportsbook operators to team up with well-known teams.

The bill would also allow sports leagues to enter into a “commercial agreement with a sports wagering operator under which the sports governing body may share in the amount wagered or revenues derived from sports wagering on the sports governing body’s sporting events.”

This essentially means that a team could secure a sports betting operator license and then the parent league could partner with the team for a portion of that handle or revenue from wagers on league games that are played.

Class 1 horse racing venues would also be permitted to offer sports wagering under the proposed legislation.

The bill is accompanied by a House Joint Resolution, HJR 97, for a constitutional amendment that could appear on the ballot in November. Voters would then be allowed to vote for or against the resolution which is worded as: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to legalize sports wagering in this state.”

For the joint resolution to pass it requires a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate and cannot be vetoed by the governor.

Huberty’s proposal is the third one to be put forward by a Texas lawmaker this legislative session.

Other bills being looked at

In January, Democratic Representative Harold Dutton, who represents the downtown Houston area, introduced HB 1121 in January and would make Texas the second online-only state sports wagering.

Dutton’s proposal would see Texas adopt a similar sports betting model to Tennessee where the activity is only available via online and mobile apps. Sports betting would also be taxed at a rate of 6.25% and only five licenses would be made available to prospective operators.

Another bill, HB 477, was introduced by Democratic Representative Joe Deshotel which would legalise Class III gaming. This class of gambling activities includes sports wagering.