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Beto O’Rourke Adds Legal Sports Betting To Gubanatorial Campaign

Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate running for Governor of Texas, came out in support of legal sports betting in a recent news conference. Should sports betting be legalized in the Lone Star State, it would instantly become one of the largest sports betting markets in the USA.

Beto O'Rourke Adds Legal Sports Betting To Gubanatorial Campaign

The state’s finances are the top priority

Beto O’Rourke, a former presidential candidate, is making a bid to become the first Democrat governor of Texas to be elected since 1990. O’Rourke won the Democratic primary in convincing fashion, but he has more of an uphill battle against incumbent Greg Abbott. While still an underdog, the latest polls show that O’Rourke has closed the gap, trailing Abbot by just two percent with 18% remaining undecided. O’Rouke is running on a platform based on a variety of issues that have traditionally been unpopular in Texas, including expansion of Medicaid, support of public education, and the legalization of marijuana. Given the current polling levels, public perception on these issues appears to be changing.

In a recent news conference, O’Rourke has added another formerly-unpopular stance, legalizing sports betting in Texas. The gubernatorial hopeful told reporters that he feels the legalization of sports betting sites could have a significant impact on the state’s finances. In addition to the simple issue of millions of dollars in tax revenue either being lost to neighboring states or illegal bookmakers, O’Rourke points out that the increased tax revenue could be helpful in offsetting other issues that plague Texas, like high property taxes and inflation. O’Rourke told the press: “If we were to make legal casino gambling and sports betting in the state of Texas – which as you all know many Texans engage in now, it’s only that those revenues go to other states and to other state governments – we would be able to bring in billions of dollars more. And from listening to Texans from across the state, firstly, it’s a very popular proposal. And two, I think it would also help us to address some of the challenges we have in reducing inflation and property taxes in the State of Texas.”

In the latest gambling legal news, a recent poll found that 43% of Texans are in favor of legalized sports betting, while just 26% are opposed. These attitudes have not been reflected by legislators who publicly pride themselves on supporting personal freedoms, as the question has not been put to the state’s voters and there have been minimal efforts to bring a legal sports betting bill to a vote. It is interesting to note that the parent company of the WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma that sits about an hour north of the Dallas metropolitan area has contributed more than $15 million over the years to various Texas politicians who oppose legalizing any form of gambling in the state.

In addition to the public support, there are 11 professional sports teams in Texas who have formed the Sports Betting Alliance to throw their support behind getting sports betting legalized in the state. The Dallas Cowboys are particularly vocal in their support, expressing that they wish to be on an even playing field with other teams in the NFL based in states where they can legally enter into lucrative promotional arrangements with the well-funded sport books.

Could Governor Greg Abbott ever come around?

Texas’ current Governer Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick have been staunchly opposed to legalizing sports betting. While Patrick remains adamant in his opposition, Abbott appears to be softening somewhat. Some reports showed that Abbott was a supported of a proposal to legalize sports betting in 2021, and with public opinion changing and the strong evangelical contingent of Abbott’s supporters also softening their opposition (44% of legal sports betting supporters in Texas identify as evangelicals), it is possible that new legislation in 2023 could get by even if O’Rourke’s run fails.

While it is unlikely that Dan Patrick could stop legalized sports betting all by himself, he remains adamant in his opposition and it appears that he will do anything in his power to prevent Texans from gaining the freedom to place a wager on any sporting event. In addition to overcoming opposition from Texas’ second-most-powerful politician, the state’s constitution would need to be amended in order for a theoretical bill legalizing sports betting to become law. There are more hurdles in Texas than there are in many other states. If Lieutenant Governor Patrick gets his way Texas will be the last state to get on board, but if O’Rourke makes good on his longshot bid for Governor the timeline could progress significantly faster. Could we see top bookmakers like FanDuel and Caesars entering the TX market? Only time will tell!

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