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Latest on gambling laws in TX 2024

The topic of legalization of all forms of gambling in each US state is anything but boring. So far, six states have legalized online gambling, and other states have different mixes of what’s allowed regarding online gambling, sports betting, casinos, fantasy games, etc. Each state has complete freedom to customize federal laws to best suit its local situation, and Texas is no different. But changes in the Lone Star state have been glacier-slow. Regardless, progress is steady, and 2024 will continue the trend.

1. Laws regarding online gambling

While online sports betting and gambling remain illegal in Texas, it’s not the end of the road. The current prohibition stems from the fact that any online gambling and sports betting must come from locally registered providers, which can only be native Indians as they have special permissions due to the IGRA bill.

Until that changes, online gambling in Texas will be available to players via offshore casinos, as Jonathan Askew points out, where players can gamble on curated and trusted casinos playing plenty of their favorite casino games. Offshore casinos represent an ideal convenience for the players and show just how much potential lies in regulating online gambling and the benefits it could bring to Texas. Crypto casinos and sportsbooks are another viable option, which are also usually based offshore, and use crypto rather than fiat for deposits and withdrawals. 

2. The Sports Betting Alliance

A unified body representing all professional sports teams in Texas, the sports betting alliance is making a strong push towards legal sports betting by supporting several laws. The push towards legalization started almost five years ago when democratic Rep. Eddie Lucio III introduced a bill HB 1275 to the Texas House. In short, the bill aimed to lay the foundations for all further efforts, such as HB 2070, SB 736, and SJR 39, which we will cover in a while.

HB 1275 proposed imposing a tax on online casinos, an authorization fee, and an occupational permit, as it is the requirement for all others in states where it’s legal. The same applies to SB 736 and HB 2070, only for sports wagering, where it would make it legal and decriminalize it. The main obstacle for any major changes to happen in Texas regarding the subject is because a constitutional referendum would need to happen, and the constitution of Texas would need slight changes, and such major events need time and continuous effort.

HB 1275 proposed allowing mobile online betting and wagering to be made legal, but it’s currently up for debate. Until then, only residents 21 and older can visit any one of the three brick-and-mortar casinos readily available. These are Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino, Speaking Rock Entertainment Center, and Naskila Gaming, each operated by the three legally recognized tribes in Texas. 

Should HB 1275 succeed, it would impose a 6.25% tax on sports bets, and it could add to the 24% federal tax, which applies to all gambling winnings. While these may sound harsh, it’s worth noting that Texas is one of the few US states that does not impose an income tax, adding to the promising potential of its future casino industry. Also, while online sports betting and casinos are not available, Texans can enjoy raffles and charitable bingos alongside pari mutuel wagering on horse and greyhound racing.

4. Backers of House Bills 2843 and 1942

Strong support is being funneled toward two major proposed House Bills, where lobbyists are putting big bucks and throwing their hats into the ring. Should both bills pass, casino and online sports betting would be legal on mobile phones, solving the current situation. Influential and wealthy activists like Cuban, Adelson, and Fertitta have all made significant contributions to the case, where the Dallas Mavericks were sold for a significant price, and many see this as a future investment towards a casino being built.

Since casinos thrive in nearby Las Vegas, it’s the Las Vegas Sands Corporation making substantial investments, as it’s in their best interest to more lax laws towards online casinos and gambling in general. 

5. Future steps

A potential $9 billion could be made from casinos, according to Baird Fogel, and the state of Texas is missing out on a substantial revenue increase. Backers of proposed bills propose that 80% of the revenue collected this way can go towards funding the Texas University funds. Getting the three local tribes on board would be the most significant step, as they have a favorable position, and their vote and stance count the most on legalizing more gambling laws in Texas.

Casinos are being built near the Oklahoma-Texas border by the Hard Rock, and anything can happen in Dallas. 2024 can be seen as the year where supporters and lobbyists are setting the groundwork for any future pushes. Rallying more support, educating the public, getting the local tribes onboard, and promoting better deals from proposed bills are all great ways to finally make the Lone Star state one of the largest in the casino industry!

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