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Texas: No Approval on Gambling Expansion (Yet)

The push to legalize gambling in Texas has been a topic of intense debate and discussion in the state's legislative session lately. Two key proposals have emerged: one seeking to legalize online sports betting, and another aiming to bring casinos to the Lone Star State. In recent developments, the Texas House of Representatives made significant strides by passing legislation to allow voters to decide on online sports betting. However, the prospects for legalizing casinos appear dimmer as the proposal failed to gather enough support.

Here’s what we know so far:

Casino Legislation Stalls

The recent House Joint Resolution 155 (HJR 155) aimed to legalize casinos in Texas and was initially passed by the House with a vote of 92-51, according to the Texas Tribune. However, the proposal faced difficulty in garnering the necessary support to progress further. The authors of the casino legislation postponed consideration multiple times as, although close, they struggled to secure the required 100 votes for passage.

The casino proposal's future is as yet uncertain, as the authors have decided to postpone consideration until after the current legislative session ends. So, this setback significantly diminishes the chances of legalizing casinos in Texas at this time.

It’s not all bad, though; this setback will perhaps help in continuing to build Texan online casinos’ popularity. Although land-based casino gambling is still not permitted in the state, many online casinos are based offshore and so are not prohibited in locations where gambling is not allowed.

Advancements in Sports Betting Legislation

In parallel with the casino proposal, another significant effort sought to legalize sports betting in Texas.

The Texas House approved House Joint Resolution 102 (HJR 102) and House Bill 1942 (HB 1942), both of which aim to legalize online sports betting in the state. HJR 102, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Leach, required a two-thirds majority (100 votes) as it sought to amend the state constitution. In a significant victory for proponents of sports betting, the resolution received 101 votes in favor during a final vote, securing its passage in the House. HB 1942, the enabling legislation for HJR 102, also cleared the House with a vote of 82-51.

While the progress in the House is noteworthy, the legislation must now overcome significant challenges in the Senate. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the president of the Senate, has expressed opposition to expanding gambling in the state and downplayed the prospects of the sports betting proposal. It remains uncertain whether the legislation can garner enough support in the Senate to move forward further.

Political Landscape and Future Prospects

The contrasting outcomes of the sports betting and casino proposals reflect the complex political landscape surrounding gambling expansion in Texas. While the sports betting legislation has made significant progress, thanks to a coalition of pro sports teams and betting platforms backing it, the proposal faces an uphill battle in the Senate due to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's opposition.

The casino legislation, which received support from Las Vegas Sands and aimed to establish destination resorts, ultimately fell short of the required support in the House. The postponement of consideration indicates that further advancements in the current legislative session are unlikely. However, proponents of the casino legislation remain hopeful, stating that they will continue their efforts in future sessions.

The ongoing debate around gambling expansion in Texas highlights the divergent perspectives and challenges faced by legislators. Supporters argue that legalizing gambling would generate substantial tax revenue, create jobs, and boost tourism. They also contend that many Texans already engage in illegal gambling and that regulation would bring these activities into the legal and regulated sphere.

Opponents raise concerns about the potential social and economic impacts of expanded gambling, including increased addiction, crime rates, and negative effects on existing businesses. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has been a vocal critic of gambling expansion and has emphasized the need for overwhelming Republican support for any such measures to advance in the Senate.

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