On Wednesday evening, the Texas House came very close to approving two bills, seeking to allow online sports betting and a limited number of casino resorts. The legislative measure that would legalize online sports betting was okayed by 97 policymakers and nayed by 44 lawmakers during the chamber’s second reading of the resolution.
The other proposal was supported by 92 lawmakers and opposed by 51 House members. Since both legislative measures seek to amend the Texas constitution, they need to be supported by two-thirds of the members to cross the finish line.
Both Proposals Fall Several Votes Short of the Votes Required to Pass in the Senate
On Wednesday evening, House lawmakers had to vote on two proposals – one that would legalize online sports betting and another one that seeks to allow a limited number of casino resorts in Texas. The bill that aims to legalize online sports betting in the state, also known as House Resolution 102, fell just three votes short of the required 100. Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano), the bill’s author, expressed hopes that his legislation will get all 100 votes needed to pass on Thursday.
House Joint Resolution 155, which would allow casino resorts in the Lone Star, was approved by 92 lawmakers, while 51 members of the chamber voted against it. Should the measure receive 99 or 100 votes on Thursday, it will advance to the Senate. The proposal is authored by Rep. Charlie Geren, a Fort Worth Republican, who told his House colleagues that Texans often cross the border to gamble. He added that the proposed casino resorts would offer other amenities and boost state coffers.
Since both legislative efforts aim to introduce constitutional amendments, they will need the support of two-thirds of the House members to move forward. But the House now has 149 members after state representatives unanimously agreed to expel North Texas Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City, District 2) by a vote of 147-0. That is why it is still unclear whether the two-thirds threshold would be 99 or 100 votes.
The fact that the proposals came just several votes shy of the needed 100 votes to pass is a sure sign of the tension between policymakers who support and oppose the gambling expansion efforts.
The Proposed Vegas-Style Casino Resorts Would Boost State Economy but Hurt a Tribal-Owned Casino
Geren’s proposal includes a 15% tax on gross gaming revenue that would go to education and public safety funds. Under the provisions of his bill, which was amended several times, eight resort-style casinos would be established. Those who have already obtained a license for horse or dog racing would be allowed to apply for a casino license or give this right to another business.
Besides, a person or company could own a maximum of two casino resorts. Companies that operate in China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea (except Taiwan) would not be eligible for a Texas casino license.
A few days ago, the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas opposed Geren’s bill, explaining that the introduction of flashy casino resorts in Texas would hurt the Lucky Eagle Casino, which the tribe has been operating since 1996. Tribal leaders even noted that the massive gambling expansion could lead to Lucky Eagle Casino’s bankruptcy.