AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the 87th Legislature’s Senate Committee on Finance discussed the state’s budget shortfall for the years following the pandemic, some lawmakers looked to legalized gambling and sports betting as a solution.
However, one of the state’s top leaders, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, said Tuesday he’s not a supporter of legalized gambling in Texas and thinks any efforts toward it in this session will go bust.
Patrick told the Chad Hasty Show on KFYO in Lubbock Tuesday that gambling and sports betting has lower than low odds of gaining traction.
“It’s not even an issue that’s going to see the light of day this session. There may be a bill filed, but I doubt it,” Patrick told the radio show.
State Rep. Joe Deshotel and State Sen. Roland Gutierrez have already filed bills aiming to allow the operation of casinos in Texas. State Sen. Royce West, a Democrat on the Senate’s finance committee, said it’s definitely a viable option.
Patrick told the radio show sports gambling support at the start of session from lobbyists or from professional sports franchises isn’t new. Patrick said the amount of tax revenue gambling could generate in the state doesn’t add up to much of a solution.
“Every year they come and they lobby to pass a bill on something, and every year I tell them the same thing… don’t talk about revenues, because the sports gaming, for example, that teams are trying to push this session… that generates, by their numbers, $150 million a year. That’s a lot of money, but it pays for about a half of a day of our year,” Patrick said.
Patrick added — “casinos say they’ll generate about $700 million in tax dollars, a lot of money, but it’s equivalent to about three days out of 365 days a year of our total budget.”
State Sen. Jane Nelson, the Republican chairing the committee, said “July’s $4.6 billion shortfall estimate, [is] now projected to be a $946 million shortfall.”
You can listen to Patrick’s full interview here.