- Former presidential candidate and current Texas gubernatorial candidate Robert “Beto” O’Rourke voiced his support for legal sports betting in Texas this week.
- O’Rourke is running a campaign against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott; O’Rourke is considered a longshot to unseat Abbott, though his support could create waves throughout Texan politics.
AUSTIN, Texas – At a press conference on Wednesday, Texas Democrat and gubernatorial candidate Robert “Beto” O’Rourke went on record with his support for bringing legal sports betting to Texas.
O’Rourke States Support For Sports Betting
“From listening to Texans across the state, it’s one, a very popular proposal, and two, it would also help us address some of the challenges we have in reducing inflation and property taxes in the state… so I think that warrants a very close look and it’s something I’m inclined to support, said O’Rourke at the press conference.
O’Rourke, a former Democratic Congressman in Texas who served from 2013 to 2019, is set to run against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott in the coming gubernatorial election.
O’Rourke rose to national fame in 2018 when he ran against incumbent Ted Cruz for a seat in the U.S. Senate, eventually losing a relatively competitive campaign.
O’Rourke further rose in the national consciousness as a presidential candidate during the 2020 election cycle, though he removed himself from the race by November and endorsed Joe Biden.
Sports Betting Remains A Polarizing Issue In Texas
O’Rourke is considered an underdog to defeat Abbott in the next election cycle; his betting odds to win the Governorship in Texas opened at (+500) but have since lengthened to (+800).
However, his support could lead to other notable Texas politicians likewise voicing their support for legal sportsbooks in Texas.
Sports betting has been a relatively polarizing issue in Texas, with their strong Evangelical ties in the state legislature opposing the idea.
For his part, Abbott may be warming up to sports betting himself. When first elected in 2015, Abbott outright dismissed the idea of bringing legal sports betting to Texas; however, according to more recent reports, Abbott is now at least open to the idea of sports betting in Texas.
While O’Rourke’s statement of support certainly could have been stronger, it is very possible that Abbott parlays his warming attitudes on sports betting into outright support, effectively neutralizing O’Rourke’s endorsement.
This would be a win-win for Abbott and Texans, and would likely serve Abbott well in his campaign against O’Rourke.
Texas A Potential Sports Betting Goldmine
Texas is considered one of the most potentially lucrative untapped American sports betting markets, with only California and Florida rivaling Texas’ combination of population size and sports culture.
According to recent figures, Texas contains approximately 10 million more residents than New York, the next-largest state with legal sports betting. In January and February (the two most recent months with available data), sportsbooks in New York turned over sports betting handles of over $1 billion, with revenue figures of over $123 million in January and over $81 million in February.
If Texas were to legalize sports betting and offer a full sports betting market, complete with several mobile sportsbooks, they could expect to see monthly revenue figures in excess of $100 million once the market fully matures.
This could lead to sports betting tax receipts of $10 million or more per month, depending on the tax rate, which would be incredibly useful for a state fighting rampant inflation.
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Jerad has been a welcomed addition to the LegalSportsBetting.com writing team. Covering topics regarding the expansion of sports betting in the US, Jerad focuses on legislative efforts, bill signings and other methods for sports betting legalization. Finishing his education as a college baseball player, Jerad has first-hand knowledge of competitive sports, paired with years of personal sports betting as well. As a political science major at the University of Central Florida, Jerad covers the political, legal, and legislative aspects of sports gambling without any issues.