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Rick Perry: Texas voters will back sports betting

| By Robin Harrison
Political heavyweight Rick Perry believes a proposal to regulate mobile sports betting in Texas will pass “overwhelmingly” if it is put to voters. 
Texas sports betting

Speaking on the World Series of Politics podcast, Governor Rick Perry said the proposal filed by Senator Lois Kolkhorst and Representative Jeff Leach represented the best way to legalise betting in the Lone Star State. 

Legal sports betting in Texas will also generate significant new revenue, he continued. The full podcast can be heard below.

It could net half a billion dollars according to recent estimates, the longest-serving governor in the state’s history said. This could pave the way for lowering other taxes, and generate more for infrastructure spending. 

Governor Rick Perry
Governor Perry is in favour of a constitutional amendment to facilitate legal betting in Texas

Plans for Texas mobile betting

Senate Bill 715 and its House counterpart HB1942 set out the framework for regulated betting. 

The bills set out plans for a mobile market, with the state’s professional sports franchises serving as master licensees. Sports teams, golf courses accredited to hold professional tournaments, plus Class 1 racetracks, would be eligible for one master licence each. 

Each would be required to pay a $500,000 licence fee, and would be taxed on 10% of adjusted gross wagering revenue. 

The legislation would be enabled through a constitutional amendment, set out in Senate Joint Resolution 39 and HJR 102. As a result the bills must pass the Texas legislature with a two-thirds majority in each chamber. 

The proposal would then go to voters on 7 November, 2023. Governor Perry told hosts Brandt Iden and Brendan Bussmann this approach was “as democratic as you can get”.

Listen to the World Series of Politics on Apple Podcasts

Texas teams present a united front

Governor Perry, the 14th secretary of energy, went on to highlight the widespread support for the legislation. It was backed by every professional sports team in Texas, he noted.

He is a spokesman for Texas Sports Betting Alliance which has brought together some of the state’s leading teams including the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers and FC Dallas. They are joined in the alliance by betting operators Fanatics Sportsbook, DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM and Penn Entertainment’s Barstool Sportsbook. 

“There’s never been this coming together, to work on one issue [before],” Governor Perry explained on the podcast. “I’ve been in politics since around 1984, so I’ve seen a lot of interesting efforts but this one caught my attention for a number of reasons.

“Not least, that it is abundantly clear to me that the people of the state of Texas enjoy their sports. They are fanatical about it.”

The effort was less about expanding gambling, and more about legalising an activity that has been going on for decades.

Bettors’ private information would be protected, their bets would be honoured, and they would have safeguards to ensure they gambled sustainably.

Put it to the people

The Kolkhorst and Leach bills still face a number of hurdles, including opposition from the casino sector. It may also face opposition from some lawmakers. 

To legislators unsure whether to support Texas wagering, Governor Perry said: “Just ask, if the voters were smart enough to elect you to your job, don’t you think they’re smart enough to decide whether this issue should be legal in the state of Texas?”

Ultimately, Perry added, he was confident that the Texas legislature would close in May with the proposal passing. 

“I feel comfortable that once it becomes a constitutional amendment and the people of the state have a chance to look at it, it will pass,” he said. “And I think it will pass rather overwhelmingly.”

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