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Melanie Porter January 9, 2023 3 min read
Texas Considers Bill to Legalize Limited Casino Gambling and Sports Betting
The state’s legislature is ready to consider Senate Joint Resolution 17, a proposed bill that would give the green light to casino gambling at a limited number of locations while preparing the ground for sports betting
The new bill would generate the necessary framework for building the Texas Gaming Commission. The new body would be responsible for supervising legalized gambling in the state that continues to celebrate its “Wild West” roots.
What Would the Bill Include?
Originally, the amendment was pre-filed by state senator Carol Alvarado last November. At the moment, the bill does not clearly mention the size of the licensing fees, but it does mention the number of licenses and the type of licenses that would be granted to operators in Texas.
A total of four destination resorts located in metropolitan areas in the state would be able to apply for a Class I license. It is, however, necessary for the respective cities to have a minimum population of two million and not to already possess an active licensed Class I casino operator.
The proceeds would go towards tax relief as well as funding for public safety programs and education. Casino taxes are expected to be set at 25% of gross gaming revenue from slot machines and 10% from table games.
If the bill is passed, three Class II licenses for “limited casino gambling” will become available for operators interested in providing horse racing options in large metropolitan areas. These licenses will be destined for operators with a previous pari-mutual wagering license.
A pair of Class III licenses will allow operators to provide limited greyhound racing gambling options.
Changes for Tribal Casino Operators
A limited number of three tribal entities can currently provide casino gambling under the current Federal law. The list includes the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino in Eagle Pass, Naskila Gaming in Livingston, and the Speaking Rock Entertainment Center in El Paso.
However, the new state amendment would ask Indian casinos to cover an additional portion of revenue in the form of taxes. The bill would also ask the same tribal operators to have an effective gaming agreement or obey all state regulations related to Federal laws.
To pass, 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 state house and senate are currently under the control of the Republican party. Alvarado is seeking bipartisan support to make the proposed law pass.
If it would pass, the new law would also bring changes to the constitution and free the path for the introduction of sports betting through the standard legislative process. This would require a simple majority of both chambers instead of a supermajority.
At the start of the year, a report released by the Baptist Standard announced that lawmakers in the state were likely to resist pushes for the expansion of gambling.