Lawmakers are going all in during this legislative session to legalize sports betting in Texas. There may have been a shocking change of heart in the outside world, however, as a prominent figure switched sides.
Mattress Mack Changing Sides
In the post-PASPA, many have wondered when the Lone Star State would join the sports betting industry because it’s the second-most populous state in the nation, only behind California. According to Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, it is unlikely that sports betting in Texas will be legalized during his lifetime.
Out of left field, he has decided to switch sides. He is one of the biggest sports bettors in the world, known for making massive bets on the Houston Astros to win the World Series, and has been successful twice in the last couple of years. With that being said, he hasn’t completely turned against gambling.
Why Did He Decide to Switch Sides?
Throughout the years, Texas has missed out on a plethora of revenue as people like McIngvale went out of state to place these wagers. Other consumers who don’t have the same luxury to do so have resorted to using offshore sportsbooks based in foreign lands. Speaking to the Houston Chronicle, McIngvale said:
“My change of heart is that I know myself and I’ve seen the light as far as impulsiveness on me to sports gambling. Because I’ve got to drive to Louisiana, it limits those impulses by a factor of 1,000. So I’m not in favor of sports gambling in Texas.”
“Driving to Louisiana for two hours is not that much of an inconvenience,” McIngvale told the Chronicle. “And I think all that glitters is not gold. They’ve got to look at it, because I’m concerned that the revenue estimates, as far as what’s going to come into the state, are way overblown.”
A Senator Files a Bill in the State
Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa of McAllen, along with state Sen. Lois Kolhorst of Brenham, filed SB 715. If the initiative passes, voters across the state will have the final say because it will appear on the ballot in the next election cycle.
In a press release, Hinojosa stated, “Texans are all about freedom of choice…The Legislature should provide our voters the right to decide for themselves if they want to engage in legal sports wagering.”
Still, a lot of work needs to be done, as there is a lot of pessimism surrounding the issue. Tilman Fertitta believes the sports betting bill will not pass this year, as any bill would need two-thirds of the support from the two chambers.
If the bill doesn’t pass this year, this would only be the second time advocates for the business venture in the state struck out. On the other hand, Hawaii is on the verge of striking out for the seventh time in the last three years.