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Online sports betting in Texas receives final House approval

Texas voters would have final say over the proposed Constitutional amendment.

AUSTIN, Texas — Texans just might get a chance to vote on a Constitutional amendment that would legalize online sports betting in the state.

It wasn’t easy to get House Joint Resolution 102 across the finish line.

In an initial vote, the measure passed the Texas House, but failed to get two-thirds approval, which all proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution need.

But the legislation’s author, State Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Allen), worked non-stop behind the scenes to whip up more votes.

And when it came time for the final vote, 101 members said yes, one more than was needed.

Leach says HJR 102 isn’t an extension of gambling, but instead better regulation of something already happening all across Texas.

“This is important legislation that needs to pass. This is activity that’s happening now. Over a million Texans are betting online on sporting events. They’re doing so right now, under current law, criminally and unconstitutionally,” Rep. Leach told us on Inside Texas Politics. “I think we need to smartly pass a law that regulates this, that allows these folks to come out of the shadows, that protects our children.”

A similar piece of legislation, House Joint Resolution 155, would allow Texas voters to decide whether to allow casinos in our state.

But finding at least 100 votes for its final passage is proving much more difficult and most observers don’t think the legislation has a future.

Both resolutions also need a two-thirds majority in the Texas Senate before voters could ultimately decide and prospects for both in the upper chamber don’t look promising.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has, in the past, signaled his opposition to expanding gambling in Texas and has said in recent days the ideas don’t have enough support in the Senate.

Leach, though, says there’s still a chance.

“I’m hopeful that this bill will get a fair shake in the Senate. The Lieutenant Governor has actually not closed the door on the sports wagering legislation,” Leach told us.

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