Bill Would Legalize Sports Betting in Texas

Last night, the Patriots beat the Rams to win Super Bowl LIII, but next year the state of Texas could be the big winner, thanks to legalized sports betting, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

A proposed constitutional amendment, filed by State Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville) would ask voters to dramatically expand the state’s gambling laws.

"The legislature by law may authorize and regulate the placing of wagers on professional and collegiate sports," it reads.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that barred sports betting in most states, leaving up to individual state legislatures to decide if they want to allow it. In his ruling, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the prohibition violated the 10th Amendment.

"It is as if federal officers were installed in state legislative chambers and were armed with the authority to stop legislators from voting on any offending proposals. A more direct affront to state sovereignty is not easy to imagine," he wrote.

But the legislation filed on Friday must overcome strong anti-gambling attitudes in Texas that burdened similar legislation in just about every modern legislative session.

The push to restrict gambling has been led by the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Rob Kohler, who is a consultant for the Christian Life Commission, says they oppose this too. He warns state lawmakers not to be swayed by the casino industry.

"I tell members that if you didn’t say that when you were getting elected, don’t come to Austin and have some fancy lobbyist convince you to do it."

He says past efforts to expand gambling have claimed this it would help the states bottom line. The lottery, he says, was supposed to help education, which continues to be woefully underfunded.

He says gambling preys upon the weak, pointing to sales of scratch off tickets.

"When you look at the sales, it comes from areas in our communities when levels of poverty are high."

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