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Ken Hoffman on why Texas should cash in on sports betting and gambling

Ken Hoffman on why Texas should cash in on sports betting and gambling

$100 bills money
Could Texas cash in on sports betting? Tomasz Zajda/EyeEm/Getty Images

A multimillion-dollar ad campaign urging the Texas Legislature to approve casino and sports gambling in the Lone Star State has begun to air on local radio and television. The campaign is funded by the Las Vegas-based Sands Corporation.

Texas is considered the holy grail of states that currently don’t allow casino and sports gambling. In fact, the Texas constitution specifically bans casino and sports gambling. That’s very specific and weird.

Two bills currently filed in the legislature effectively would amend the state constitution. If the bills are passed by two-thirds majority in both the state House and Senate, voters would get to decide in November if casino and sports gambling come to Texas.

Don’t bet on it.

Republicans currently have a majority in both the Texas House and Senate, and they are almost unanimously against legalizing casino gambling in Texas. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has promised that voters will not get to decide whether or not to legalize gambling in Texas. “It won’t see the light of day,” he said during a radio interview.

Polls, however, show that Texans overwhelmingly favor casino and sports gambling. A recent poll conducted by the Dallas Morning News and UT-Tyler found 57 percent of Texans support casino gambling with only 29 percent opposed. The remaining 14 percent of Texans said it didn’t matter to them.

Sports gambling was supported by 43 percent with only 26 percent opposed. The remaining 31 percent may have been too busy filling out their March Madness brackets to respond.

It’s understandable why the legislature is not addressing casino and sports gambling. Legislators are more focused on limiting access to the ballot box with measures that critics say are targeted at voters of color, the disabled, and older citizens. Proposed bills would ban overnight early voting and drive-through early voting, both of which boosted voter participation in recent elections in Harris County.

Supporters of the proposed bills say they’re necessary to increase election security in Texas, although no widespread voter fraud was found in 2020. The House has approved a bill that would permit Texans to carry handguns without a permit. Our legislature has filed more bills considered anti-LGBTQ than any other state.

Texas is one of only five states that don’t allow casino gambling. The others are: Utah, Tennessee, Hawaii, and Alaska. Meanwhile, the Sands Corporation reported that Texans annually spend $2.5 billion in nearby casinos in Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.

The Sands Corporation has presented plans that would build large casino resort complexes (one each) in Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin. The resorts would include hotels, restaurants, retail stores and recreation facilities.

They say the resorts would create thousands of construction jobs and tens of thousands of operating jobs.

Texans who want to bet on sports currently have no shortage of online sites perfectly willing to take their money. The sites do not kick back any revenue to Texas coffers. It should be noted that no Texan has ever been brought up on charges for wagering on sports with online betting sites.

Professional leagues and governing bodies enthusiastically support sports betting. The NFL recently announced long-term deals with the three largest online gambling companies: DraftKings, FanDuel, and Caesars. DraftKings is the official fantasy site for the men’s pro tennis tour. Televised tournaments showcase shifting odds while matches are being played. You can wager on which player will win the match, each set, each game, even the next point.

ESPN has a long-term partnership with DraftKings, including a daily betting show on the network. Online betting sites sponsor golf tournaments. The Washington Football Team recently received a sports betting license. Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. has a sports gambling parlor inside the building. Nationals Park and Wrigley Field have applied for on-premises sports books.

The NBA wants a piece of the action. Charles Barkley recently said a team owner told him that profits from gambling will exceed money from television, the life blood of pro sports, within a few years.

The No. 1 sports gambling location isn’t in Las Vegas. It’s a Starbucks in Fort Lee, New Jersey, the first exit off the George Washington Bridge from New York City. 

We are a nation of bettors. Gambling is profitable, maybe not to the bettors, but the “house” makes a fortune. Those chandeliers in casinos weren’t free.

If the legislature approves, and voters say yes, Texas would be the house. Twenty-one states and Washington D.C. have sports betting, with many more coming.

Not Texas, though. Somebody needs to clue our representatives who aren’t representing us. We don’t need the TV weatherman to know it’s time to “make it rain” in Texas.

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