Published: March 16, 2023

Texas Lawmakers Will Consider Casinos, Sports Betting in House State Affairs Committee

A series of bills and resolutions to expand gambling in Texas has been scheduled for a hearing in the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday, March 22. Lawmakers will consider proposals to place casinos and sports betting on the November 2023 general election ballot. 

Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) is the chairman of State Affairs, which will hear bills by Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) and Rep. John Kuempel (R-Seguin) to bring casinos to Texas.

Geren’s House Joint Resolution (HJR) 155 proposes permitting casinos in large metropolitan areas, including Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and McAllen. Sen. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) has also filed her own casino bill in the state Senate.

Meanwhile, Kuempel’s House Bill (HB) 2843 concerns licensing commercial casinos, creating a Texas Gaming Commission, and includes the horse racing industry. The legislation also includes sports wagering and the state’s three federally-recognized Native American tribes. Generally speaking, tribes want the ability to control their own gambling operations and be allowed to offer casino gambling, especially if they have to compete with commercial casinos.

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) and Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) authored legislation to place sports betting on the statewide ballot and set up a program to license sports wagering operations. House State Affairs will hear Leach’s twin proposals, the constitutional amendment and the enabling bill.

Thetting bills, stated in a news release on Friday that its research indicates the proposals by Kolkhorst and Leach, which include a 10 percent tax rate, could create $648.7 million in tax revenue for the State of Texas in the first five years. After the market matures, the state could reap $180 million every year, TSBA claims.

Of course, taxes would be levied on the gross gaming revenue of casinos and sports wagering operations if any of these bills become law.

While Texas has some of the strictest gambling laws in the country, they certainly are not the most onerous. Utah and Hawaii prohibit all gambling whatsoever, and there are other states that like Texas have not passed legislation to permit sports betting within their borders.

Opponents of casinos and other forms of gambling, such as Rep. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) and socially conservative interest groups, contend the economic advantages are oversold and expanding gambling will lead to addiction and crime.

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