Texas considers bill to allow sports wagering and casino gambling

The new bill would need votes from two-thirds of both chambers as well as a majority of the people polled during a future referendum.
The new bill would need votes from two-thirds of both chambers as well as a majority of the people polled during a future referendum.

Senate Joint Resolution 17 is ready to be considered by the Texas legislature.

US.- There’s a new attempt in the Texas capitol to legalise casinos and sports betting in the state. Senator Carol Alvarado pre-filed Senate Joint Resolution 17 in the legislature in November and with the legislative session getting underway once again today, the bill is ready to be considered.

Under Senate Joint Resolution 17, a Texas Gaming Commission would be created to regulate legal commercial gambling in the state. A public vote would be held on whether to legalise sports betting and a limited number of big-city casinos.

Senate Joint Resolution 17 states that it is: “Proposing a constitutional amendment to foster economic development and job growth and to provide tax relief and funding for education and public safety by creating the Texas Gaming Commission, authorising and regulating casino gaming at a limited number of destination resorts and facilities licensed by the commission, authorising sports wagering, requiring occupational licences to conduct casino gaming, and requiring the imposition of a tax.”

According to the amendment, up to four destination resorts in metropolitan areas would be able to apply for Class I licences, provided that the city has a population of two million or more and that it does not already have a licensed Class I casino operator already active.

There will be three Class II licences up for grabs to conduct “limited casino gambling” for horse racing operators within major metropolitan areas, who previously held an existing pari-mutual wagering licence.

Also, two additional Class III licences for limited gambling will be made available with the same caveats for operators of greyhound racing tracks.

While tribal entities may already offer casino gambling under existing Federal law and jurisprudence, the state amendment would require that Indian casinos pay a portion of revenue in taxation to the state. The bill states tribal operators must have an effective gaming agreement, or obey state law in addition to Federal laws, in order to achieve this.

Casino taxation will be set at 10 per cent of gross gaming revenue (GGR) from table games and 25 per cent of GGR received from slot machines.

Even if approved this year by a two-thirds vote in both legislative chambers, Alvarado’s gambling resolution still would require a statewide public vote on November 7, 2023. This would be necessary to amend the Texas Constitution, which prohibits most gambling.

In 2021, two bills, HB2070 and HJR97, both sponsored by Rep Dan Huberty, proposed constitutional amendments to legalise sports betting but did not receive a vote in either the Texas House or Senate.

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