What are the odds of online sports betting passing in Texas Senate? Don’t bet on it

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says an online sports betting measure doesn’t stand a chance in the Texas Senate.

The legislation authored by Rep. Jeff Leach, a Plano Republican, passed out of the House on Thursday, getting just over the votes needed to head to the Senate, where it faces tough odds. Patrick has said expanded gambling doesn’t have the votes in the chamber, a point he doubled down on in a Saturday Twitter post.

“I’ve said repeatedly there is little to no support for expanding gaming from Senate GOP,” the post reads. “I polled members this week. Nothing changed. The senate must focus on issues voters expect us to pass. We don’t waste time on bills without overwhelming GOP support. HB1942 won’t be referred.”

The legislation, House Bill 1492, sets the framework for online sports betting in the state. An accompanying constitutional amendment that also passed out of the House would let voters decide on whether or not to legalize sports betting. That bill wasn’t mentioned in his tweet. Without the approval of a constitutional amendment allowing sports betting, House Bill 1942 has no effect.

The bills would need to pass out of Senate committee and then on the floor in order for the proposal to head to voters.

Legal online sports betting in Texas has the support of major sports teams in Texas, including the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Mavericks, through the Texas Sports Betting Alliance, a coalition of teams and betting platforms.

“This is a historic day for Texas and its millions of sports fans,” said alliance spokesperson Cara Gustafson, in a Thursday statement sent by text. “The work is not over and we remain focused on securing votes in the Senate to ensure Texas voters get the chance to have their voice heard on the November ballot.”

The push for sports betting in Texas and coincided with a push for a limited number of destination resort style casinos in the state. Related bills did not advance out of the House this week.

“I do know when it’s time to fold ‘em,” said Rep. Charlie Geren, a Fort Worth Republican, who authored a resolution that would have put the casino proposal to voters.

Patrick was asked about the proposals to expand gambling, casinos and sports betting, in a March 23 interview on the “Chad Hasty Show” on KYFO radio in Lubbock.

Patrick said he doesn’t want to bring up a bill that doesn’t have support from the majority of the 19 Republicans in the Senate, acknowledging that the 12 Democrats in the chamber would likely support expanded gambling.

“People didn’t elect me to let the Democrats decide what we do,” he said.

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, a Brenham Republican, filed proposals for online sports betting identical to Leach’s in the Senate, but they have not received committee hearings. Sen. Tan Parker, a Flower Mound Republican, and Sen. Drew Springer, a Muenster Republican, have signed on as co-authors on the senate version of the constitutional amendment that would let voters decide on sports betting.