Despite No Commercial Casinos, Texas Supports Change To Sports Betting Law

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Even without a commercial casino industry, the Lone Star State wants the federal government to keep its hands out of Texas’ gambling decisions.

According to the American Sports Betting Coalition, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has come out to declare that the federal sports betting ban, codified by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), need to be scrapped.

PASPA is unconstitutional and tramples on state sovereignty,” Paxton said. “By ending PASPA, states can rightfully decide whether they want regulated sports betting or not.”

His comments come on the heels of the state briefly considering the legalization of daily fantasy sports sites earlier this year. In January 2016, Paxton said the DFS sites were in violation of its gambling laws, drawing scorn from billionaire investor and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

“You certainly don’t represent the views of Texans,” Cuban said of Paxton.

Research from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming said that Texas accounted for roughly 300,000 unique paying players for the DFS industry in 2015, which was about eight percent of the market.

Paxton’s support for a PASPA repeal, which could come in mid-2018 after the U.S. Supreme Court hears the case next month, also follows casino industry mogul Tilman Fertitta
agreeing to buy the Houston Rockets for a record $2.2 billion.

A former commissioner of Major League Baseball believes that the looming change to sports betting law is the primary reason why franchise values have skyrocketed in recent years.

In Texas, the topic of casino legalization falls on deaf ears legislative session after legislative session. The reason? Lobbying dollars from nearby casino states, according to one insider from the Texas legislature. The state’s stance on gambling has helped poker rooms in nearby states flourish, while limiting poker in Texas to social clubs.

Texas currently has bingo halls, pari-mutuel facilities, tribal casinos and state-owned lotteries. It’s unclear if Texas would have sports books at any of those locations if PASPA is overturned.

Texas is one of nearly 20 states supporting PASPA repeal.

The wider implications of the Supreme Court sports betting case involve the grandiose topic of states’ rights. According to California-based gaming attorney I. Nelson Rose, PASPA could bolster legal protection for states with marijuana industries. Federal gun control reform is front and center these days, and that too could be impacted by the PASPA decision.