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Two States Toil Over Legalizing Sports Betting

February 18, 2021

With 20 states already taking sports bets from their residents, there would seem to be an incentive for other states to join the fray. After all, those 20 states seem to be raking in tax revenues based on the surprisingly high handle state bookmakers are bringing through the betting windows.

All of that success aside, Texas and Arizona just can't seem to get excited by the prospects of giving its citizens what they want, a chance to legally bet on sports.

In a recent radio show, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick was asked about whether or not the state's congress would be taking up a sports betting bill in the future. His answer left little doubt about where he stands on the issue. He told the radio audience, “not going to see the light of day.”

He would later go on to add: “Every year I say the same thing. Don’t talk about revenues. The teams and casinos trying to push sports betting say they could generate $150 million a year by their numbers. That’s a lot of money. But it pays for half a day of our yearly budget.”

There are two major issues in Texas. First, the ultra-conservative Senate has 18 republicans out of a total of 31. To change the constitution and allow for sports gambling, 21 senators would have to vote yes. It's simply not likely to happen any time soon.

What's Up in Arizona?

The issues related to sports gambling in Arizona are quite different. First, there is a revenue split dispute that is raging between bookmakers, the state, and the state's Indian tribes, tribes that seem to have a stranglehold on most forms of gambling in the state. There is even an issue among the tribes themselves since the most recent bill only allocates 10 sports betting licenses to the Indian nation. The problem is there are 16 tribes currently operating 24 casinos. There is definitely an issue brewing here.

Second, the state's small business owners have been severely beaten down by issues related to the COVID19 pandemic. After a year of watching their business get trashed, they are now protesting that Congress won't consider allocating some sports betting licenses to small business owners. There is not even mention of revenue help for small business owners. That's not going to help get this bill passed if big companies are going to continue reaping all the rewards.

Stay tuned. Things are changing rapidly in Arizona.


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