Texas House approves sports betting legislation

Sports Betting

Online sports betting in Texas narrowly cleared a significant hurdle Thursday in getting passed by the Texas House. However, the fate of a second gambling initiative on casinos was uncertain as it approached a sink-or-swim deadline on Friday.

Three times Thursday, state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, requested and was granted a postponement to debate a resolution that, if approved, would allow Texans to vote on whether to open the state to eight resort-style casinos. An amendment approved earlier this week would require one of the casinos to be placed in the Austin area.

Geren’s third postponement moved the debate to noon Friday, a tight squeeze before the midnight deadline for House members to pass any House resolution in this legislative session. The implication is that Geren had not wrangled the 100 votes he needs to reach the two-thirds threshold required in the House to advance the resolution.

The lukewarm interest is a troubling development for Las Vegas Sands and other casino giants who want badly to do business in Texas but can’t seem to overcome concerns from conservative lawmakers who fear gaming would destroy families and create addictions and only scarcely stimulate the state’s economy.