Texas Legislature

State Committee Hears from Supporters and Opponents on Bills to Legalize Online Sports Betting in Texas

State Rep. Jeff Leach from Plano spoke before a state committee on Wednesday about his bill to regulate and legalize online sports betting

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If Texans want to gamble, they drive across state lines since it's illegal in the Lone Star State. Betting on sports online is also illegal, but that's not stopping thousands of Texans from doing it.

"Hundreds of thousands of Texans right now who are placing sports bets illegally, criminally right now, should be allowed to come out of the shadows," said State Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, who authored a bill that would legalize and regulate online sports betting.

He spoke before the State Affairs Committee on Wednesday morning to talk about HB 1942 , a proposed bill to regulate sports wagering, and HJR 102, a proposal for a constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting in the state.

"The people of Texas deserve a right to vote on this," said Leach who wants to see the subject on the ballot in November.

"We have an obligation and an opportunity right now to put a regulatory framework in place," said Leach about regulating sports wagering.

The proposed bill would require operators to get a license at the cost of $500,000. Sports franchises would be able to apply and operate online sports bets.

"The Dallas Cowboys organization would love to give our fans an opportunity to engage with our game in a new way by providing fans a safe and responsible way to place wagers," said Jason Cohen, a legal counsel for the Dallas Cowboys, at the committee hearing.

The bill is getting some major support from the Texas Sports Betting Alliance, which is made up of professional sports teams from across the state like the Dallas Cowboys, The Dallas Mavericks, the Texas, Rangers, Houston Astros, Houston Texans, FC Dallas, the Dallas Stars, the Rockets, the San Antonio Spurs and others.

Online sports betting platforms like DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Barstool also support the Texas Sports Betting Alliance.

Not everyone is on board with the bills and those against gambling spoke to the committee as well.

"Gambling in any form is addictive and harmful to families and disproportionately affects those who cannot afford to lose anything," said Jonathan Covey, policy director for Texas Values

Those from the grassroots organization, Texas Against Gambling, also opposed the bills.

No action was taken on Wednesday. In order for the bill to move to the floor, it has to make it out of committee.

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