Former Gov. Rick Perry supports legalizing mobile sports betting in Texas

TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Sports teams and betting platforms are hoping a new push will increase their chances of legalizing mobile sports betting in Texas.

The group called the Texas Sports Betting Alliance has hired a powerful spokesperson: former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

A bill to legalize mobile or online sports betting is being developed for the next legislative session starting in January.

You can’t watch sports on TV without seeing various ads from sports betting platforms. But while you can bet on a game or match directly on your phone in 35 states, Texas isn’t one of them.

Perry, who said he opposed the idea, now supports it in the Lone Star State.

“We’re going to have people betting on sporting events in the state of Texas, and you know what I think. That’s fine. But it needs to be regulated. There needs to be oversight.”

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He said oversight could protect consumer information from bad operators.

The alliance is comprised of a variety of sports betting platforms and professional sports teams in the state, including the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Stars, Dallas Mavericks, FC Dallas and Texas Rangers.

Once approved and fully developed, Texas collects up to $550 million over a two-year budget cycle by taxing the proceeds, they said.

But opponents like Rob Kohler, a consultant for the Christian Life Commission said the risks of betting can come at a high cost.

“We don’t think it’s a good idea to put sports betting on phones and expose their use. The dots are not too far to connect and people can have a lot of financial problems.”

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Benjamin Earley said that even though he doesn’t play, he supports the idea.

“I don’t see a problem with it because it’s going to be done online one way or another. And it’s another way to generate taxes. Less money out of taxpayers’ pockets unless they gamble.”

Before it can become law, the Texas Constitution must be changed.

That means a majority of lawmakers in the House and Senate must approve it before letting voters decide.

Perry said his message to state lawmakers is simple. “If they are wise enough to put their faith in you with a vote for you, I think we should trust them to make the decision on this matter.”

But Kohler disagreed.

“People always talk about sending people to Austin, and they’re in their communities telling them what they think is best for the state. We don’t see that changing.”

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A recent audit by the state of Colorado found some problems with its mobile sports betting industry.

They include the state not implementing adequate controls to determine whether revenue estimates are accurate.

Perry said if approved, Texas would need to put the proper controls in place.

While the former governor is speaking on behalf of the Texas Sports Betting Alliance, he said he is not lobbying for the organization.

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