The History of Texas Sports Betting in Under 10 Minutes

Texas, often known as the Lone Star State, is renowned for being one of the most powerful and towering states in the country. When it comes to wagering, Texas has a long and colorful history, which should not come as a surprise to those who are familiar with and have a liking for, the Lone Star State.


The thing is, it’s not just ancient history from a long time ago, according to Augusta Free Press, even this very second, a number of politicians, political parties, and interest groups are battling to either legalize or outlaw new kinds of gambling like internet casinos and sports betting.


Since this is the case, it is appropriate that we investigate the lengthy and eventful history that gambling & betting have had in the state; who knows, maybe we’ll pick up some useful information from it.

The Origins of Gambling in Texas

It is true that gambling was one of the numerous “vice activities” prevalent in early Texas. Some examples of this behavior are engaging in sexual acts, binge drinking, and the use of drugs like opium and the hallucinogenic herb peyote. Saloons, gambling dens, and brothels were commonplace in colonial Texas, contributing to the state’s “bad boy” or “no messin'” reputation.


Following the end of the Civil War in the United States and continuing on during the Reconstruction Era, one of the most common forms of amusement was going to gambling houses. Gambling was one of the favorite pastimes of cowboys, ranchers, smugglers, as well as buffalo hunters, & gambling only became more popular as the province began to grow in prosperity as a result of a frontier boom and a spike in the price of buffalo hides. 

Age of Progressivism

The “vices” of excessive drinking, sexual exploitation, gambling, and the consumption of narcotics (cannabis, peyote, and morphine were all prominent during this time) were either restricted or prohibited one by one during the Progressive Era. This era is also known as the “Era of Reform.” In spite of the fact that illicit gambling continued to take place in private homes and throughout the so-called “vice districts” of San Antonio and Galveston, the pastime’s popularity in the state as a whole plummeted.


The prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the 1920s was the greatest major win for reformist activists of the Progressive Era. However, contrary to popular belief, the prohibition of alcoholic beverages did not put a stop to drinking. This is common knowledge. Instead, drinking & gambling evolved into pastimes that were enjoyed in settings that may be described as more “underground.”


Great Depression

In the 1930s, when the Great Depression hit, the country’s economy was devastated, and each state faced unique challenges in overcoming its financial hardships. Parimutuel betting on horse races was first authorized in Texas in 1933. The word “parimutuel” comes from the French meaning “mutual betting,” and it refers to a style of wagering where all wagers of a certain kind are combined into a single pot. When the pool is divided among the winning bets, the payout odds are determined after taxes and the bookmaker’s commission has been removed.


Today, wagering on horse and greyhound races is still a legitimate and significant contributor to the state’s coffers. It’s probable that these sports may be limited after a series of high-profile inquiries concerning the treatment of the animals involved. Thankfully, the state can also seek cash from a variety of different avenues.


Several municipalities across the United States began loosening their restrictions on gambling as a means of increasing tax income during World War II. At the time, both Houston and Galveston had a wide variety of enormous, freely accessible casinos. Many of these establishments, like the Hollywood Dinner Club, which openly operated a sex work operation long into the 20th century, were linked to other “vice enterprises.”

Future Of Gambling

Many Texans even including Texan digital influencers miss out on the fun of wagering on their favorite sports, (such as the NFL which is now deemed the most dangerous sport in the US), since the practice is still banned in the state. On the other hand, there’s a new law that could be introduced in Texas soon.


The fight to allow sports betting in Texas reflects the state’s notoriously contentious political climate. Dan Patrick, a Republican, was nominated to run for Lieutenant Governor of Texas in March 2022 and ultimately secured the nomination. Patrick is a well-known opponent of gambling, and if he has his way, sports betting in Texas will not be authorized any time soon.


Nonetheless, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Beto O’Rourke stated in April that he would expand gambling in Texas to include both sports betting and casinos.


What happens in Texas politics with the gubernatorial and midterm elections will have a major impact on the future of the Texas Sports Betting Bill. The earliest that sports betting may become legal is 2023, even if pro-betting governments are elected, so serious bettors and gamblers will have to wait and see how things pan out over the following few years.

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