Former Gov. Perry Renews Call for Texas to Legalize Sports Betting

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The Kansas City Chiefs took home their second consecutive Lombardi Trophy and third in four years as Super Bowl LVIII drew record betting volume, helped by 38 states and Washington, DC offering some form of legalized sports wagering in advance of the big game.

Former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX). Days before the Super Bowl, he renewed calls for Texas to legalize sports betting. (Image: New York Times)

Texas isn’t part of that group, meaning the second-largest state by population likely missed out on tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue tied to the most wagered-on sporting event in the US. Former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) wants to change that and, just days before the Super Bowl, Perry renewed calls for Texas to approve regulated sports betting.

Texas is built on the core principle of individual freedom and we pride ourselves on being an economic powerhouse in the nation,” said Perry in a video produced by the Texas Sports Betting Alliance. “Legalizing mobile sports betting in Texas will finally allow the state to protect the state from illegal offshore betting sites while keeping the money generated from betting in Texas to benefit Texans.”

In the video, Perry estimated that Texans wager $8.7 billion through offshore sites — a figure some analysts and industry observers believe is high.

Texas is Golden Goose for Sportsbook Operators

As things stand today, Louisiana is the state bordering Texas that offers mobile sports betting. Likewise, that state is the Texas neighbor with the most competitive and open regulated sportsbook landscape, but given the Lone Star state’s vast expanse, it’s not convenient for most Texans to cross the border simply to place sports bets.

Those are among the reasons that of the four largest states by population, gaming companies crave sports betting legalization in Texas the most. It’s already legal in New York, but that state’s 51% tax rate on sports wagering makes turning profits there difficult. Florida permits mobile sports betting, but only via the Hard Rock app controlled by the Seminole Tribe.

In California, regulated sports betting isn’t permitted anywhere and it could be 2026 before the issue is again put to Golden State voters. Even if that happens, sports wagering will likely be confined to Tribal casinos with mobile betting, which will also be controlled by the tribes, further out than 2026.

Last year, both casino and sports betting legislation in Texas advanced as far in the state as those bills ever had, but the proposals were ultimately defeated. It’s unlikely either issue will be raised again this year.

Perry Sees Sports Betting as Moneymaker for Texas

Texas is one of the most economically vibrant and fastest-growing states in the country and its fiscal house is in order relative to California, New York, and Illinois, among others — the latter two of which embraced sports betting due to a need for new revenue sources.

In the video for the Texas Sports Betting Alliance, Perry estimated that Texas could generate” $556 million per bi-annum “if the state signs off on legalized mobile sports betting.

Undoubtedly, that’s something, but it represents a scant percentage of the $321.3 billion budget Texas lawmakers considered for the current fiscal year.

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