Legalized Sports Betting Could Benefit Texas Educators

Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, is in favor of the legalization of sports betting in Texas (This file is licensed under the Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license).

With 30.3 million people, Texas is the second-largest state in the USA in terms of population, holding 9.8% of the country’s people. That being the case, it’s entirely understandable why the major online sports betting sites would love to see sports betting in Texas become legalized.

However, even though some of the major players in the professional sports world in the Lone Star State are backing the idea of legalization, there are equally strong anti-sports betting forces at work assuring that none of the attempts to get this done are finding a path toward success. And it’s possible that among the entities being held back because of this latter choice is the state educational system.

Let’s take a look at which of the movers and shakers in the state are pro-legalization of sports betting, and who is it that is leading the resistance to this notion. Most importantly, by looking at how other states that have opted to legalize sports betting are making use of that new-found revenue, how the legalization of sports betting would benefit the people of Texas.

Powerful Forces In Pro Gambling Camp

Several billionaires who also happen to own professional sports franchises that play in the Lone Star State are among the movers and shakers who are seeking to move the needle on the legalization of sports betting in Texas.

The Texas Rangers, Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Cowboys, and Dallas Stars are all part of the Sports Betting Alliance, along with pro teams situated in Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Texas operates a $91.8 billion sports tourism industry, which makes sports betting in the state a natural opportunity to grow even more revenue.

Prominent Texans such as Dallas Mavericks co-owner Mark Cuban and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones are spokespeople for the Sports Betting Alliance. Both have added their powerful voices to the pro-legalization lobby. 

Others of note who swing a big hammer in both the world of pro sports and in the gambling industry include Tilman Fertitta, owner of the Golden Nugget casinos and the Houston Rockets and Miriam Adelson, majority owner of the Mavericks and also the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. Adelson is also a mega donor to the Republican Party, which controls Texas state government at all levels. She’s already spent a reported $6.3 million lobbying state politicians to curry favor toward the legalization of sports betting in Texas. 

Major online sportsbooks such as BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel are also part of this alliance. The group meets regularly to strategize on how to bring about their objective, the legalization of sports betting in Texas. 

“Every year, the salary cap goes up, and part of that is due to the increased revenue in sports betting,” Dallas Stars CEO Brad Alberts told the dmagazine. “If the Stars can’t bring in that revenue, then we can’t keep pace with the cap and our ability to fund a competitive team suffers.”

Greg Bibb, president and CEO of the WNBA’s Dallas Wings, sees how clubs in their league in states where sports betting is legal are drawing benefits from that opportunity. “If you look at the Phoenix Mercury, who have a very lucrative sports betting partnership, revenue for their business is significantly enhanced, and that creates competitive advantages for their athletes,” Bibb said.

Patrick Leading Anti-Gambling Forces

Texas lieutenant-governor Dan Patrick is against the legalization of sports betting in the state (This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license).

The Sports Betting Alliance is finding that they have a very formidable foe in the form of Texas Lieutenant-Governor Dan Patrick. He’s been personally responsible for shooting down every effort made so far to legalize sports betting in the state.

While there’s been some positive progress on the issue inside the Texas State House of Representatives, with two bills designed to legalize sports betting in the Lone Star State put forth in 2023, both were brought to a halt by Patrick. He oversees the Texas State Senate and refused to allow either bill to be called to the Senate floor for consideration.

“I’ve said repeatedly there is little to no support for expanding gaming from Senate GOP,” Patrick posted on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter. “I polled members . . . nothing changed. The senate must focus on issues voters expect us to pass. We don’t waste time on bills without overwhelming GOP support.”

Patrick has announced plans to seek re-election to his position in 2026. If he’s successful at winning another term, he’ll be in office until 2031 and that factor wouldn’t bode well for those hoping to see sports betting legalized in the state.

Legalization Of Sports Betting Would Benefit Texas Economy

Other Texas politicians, both Republican and Democrat, lean the opposite way on the issue of legalizing sports betting. 

“From listening to Texans from across the state … I think it would help address some of the challenges we have in reducing inflation and property taxes in the state,” Democrat Beto O’Rourke said.

Alberts is another who is certain that Texans are missing out by not taking the necessary steps to get legal and regulated sports betting rolling in the Lone Star State. 

“If you just put common sense on it, Texas is the most aggressive state in the country trying to lure businesses to relocate here,” Alberts said. “We have all these great tax incentives and benefits to grow our state economy, and now sports betting needs to be directed to helping Texas businesses and citizens.”

Certainly, in other states where legalization has taken place, one area that is benefiting in many of those states is the education system. In 2022, New York state brought in more than $370 million in tax revenue from legal sports betting. Exactly 100% of that money went directly into the New York state educational system. 

In the first year that sports betting was legal in Ohio, $193.8 million of the tax revenue gained from it was funneled into the state educational system.

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