So When Will Sports Betting Come to Texas?

posted by 1200 WOAI -

So will we soon be able to put down a bet on the Dallas Cowboys with the bookie on the corner in San Antonio? The experts tell News Radio 1200 WOAI--don’t bet on it.

Just because the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down federal laws banning sports gambling, that doesn’t mean that sports books are going to start sprouting up on the Riverwalk.

“This doesn’t say Texas has to allow this,” Constitutional Law Expert Gerald Treece of the South Texas College of Law tells News Radio 1200 WOAI. “Its just like, take for example, casino gambling. Texas now has to decide whether to make that decision for itself.”

Economist Ray Perryman, who studies the Texas economy, has serious doubts about whether the Texas Legislature, when it meets in January, will move toward allowing legal sports gambling.

He says the Texas Legislature has historically declined to expand the rather limited footprint of gambling, and Perryman expects that resistance to continue, especially if Gov. Greg Abbott is, as expected, re-elected.

“Some of the spending would clearly be displaced from restaurants and other entertainment, and the state would also gain revenue that now goes to other states,” said Perryman, who has studied Texas gambling. “But the net gain to the state would be fairly substantial.”

Rice University political analyst Mark Jones tells News Radio 1200 WOAI there is no appetite in the Legislature for expanded gambling.

"There is little support for any advancement of casino gambling, and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has little appetite for expanded gambling in the state, and the reality is that Dan Patrick controls the Senate agenda almost completely."

Jones points out that with the state's finances currently solid due to the rebound in oil prices, the ability to make money okn sports betting will not be as attractive.

"In the Senate you have conservative forces who oppose it for moral reasons, and another group of conservatives who oppose it for practical reasons," Jones said. "Also, they won't want to create the precedent for expanded gambling, because they know that casino gambling would be right behind it."

The Texas Legislature, under prodding from Gov. Ann Richards in the late 1980s, approved the State Lottery and parimutuel betting. But since then, the Legislature has rejected every gambling initiative before it, even during times like the famous 2003 ‘Recession Session,’ where a weak economy forced major cuts in significant state programs.

Perryman pointed out that the Texas Legisalature has even declined several times to allow casino-style gambling at existing parimutuel tracks, a move that could reverse the dwindling fortunes of the state’s horse racing industry.

But he joked that the temptation will be there in 2019, pointing out that gambling is the ‘only tax that people stand in line to pay.’

“The primary effect is, when these things are legalized they are also taxed, and you would have tax revenue coming to the state.”

Ironically, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was among seven Attornies General who filed ‘friend of the court’ briefs in support of New Jersey’s bid to have the federal ban on sports betting thrown out.“We’re pleased the Supreme Court recognized the unlawful manner in which this federal law prevented the states from setting their own policies,” Attorney General spokesman Marc Rylander said.

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