The second-in-command in Texas is putting his foot down. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has decided that, as long as he’s around, there won’t be any serious talk about sports gambling or casinos in the Lone Star State. Both activities have been brought to the forefront recently as methods of securing more revenue and have even found support from professional sports teams. Patrick is apparently willing to forego any attempt to allow Texans to decide their future, which is what the government is supposed to do, and told a local radio station in Lubbock, Texas, that sports gambling is “not even an issue that’s going to see the light of day” anytime soon.Patrick seems to be unaware that politicians are given their positions to help support and form policies that are created by the wishes of the people they represent. They’re not in positions of power to assert their own will or desires. However, he admits that he’s not in favor of any type of gambling and there’s little chance he will start dancing to a different beat in the near future.Patrick isn’t alone in his distaste for generating more revenue for Texas and asserts that many state senators are against gambling expansion, as well. With Republicans outweighing Democrats 18-13 in the Senate, they, along with Patrick, can control what happens, even if public support for gambling were to be found. Mark P. Jones, a political science expert at Rice University’s Baker Institute seconds that notion, telling Casino.org, “As the undisputed leader of the Texas Senate who controls its agenda with an iron hand, Patrick is better positioned than anyone in Texas to ensure that gambling legislation does not see the light of day in 2021.”According to some reviews, up to $2.5 billion could currently be leaving Texas each year to be spent on gambling activity outside the state. Simple math at a 10% tax rate shows how much additional revenue could be given to the Texas government, which could be used to improve education, roadways and much more. As things go right now, Texas lawmakers are essentially throwing away perfectly good money, the same way they would if they took a $10 bill out of their wallet and threw it into the gutter. Gamblers are going to gamble and there are plenty of options available to Texans outside the state.The hypocrisy of the anti-gambling stance in Texas is perplexing. The state has an established lottery, parimutuel gambling options and even bingo. If gambling were so evil, all forms would be prohibited, not just a select few. Still, Texans will likely continue to have to travel across state lines or use offshore gambling sites to place their bets, with Jones adding about the myopic politician, “I can’t imagine any scenario under which Patrick would change his mind this year. The budget situation is no longer as dire as was feared last July.”
The anti-gambling stance that runs deep in the heart of Texas might be softening. There is apparently a push to get the state to approve casino gambling that has been percolating for some time, but which began to boil more quickly late last year. There are also rumors now that legal sports gambling could come to Texas, which, although not confirmed, has already created a flurry of activity. Part of that is coming from the state’s professional sports teams, which are reportedly completely supportive of the idea of legalized gambling in the Lone Star State.The Dallas Morning News (paywall) explains that the Dallas Cowboys, the Dallas Mavericks and the Texas Rangers – the MLB team, not the law enforcement body – are all showing their support for sports gambling in Texas. They are expected to sign up to join a legislative effort backed by Representative Dan Huberty to introduce sports gambling legislation, which could potentially be approved before the end of the year.It’s curious how quickly some people are able to change their minds on certain topics. Before the U.S. Supreme Court bashed pro sports leagues and a handful of lawmakers when it dropped the ax on PASPA, many professional sports teams were adamantly against sports gambling, arguing that it would only foster integrity issues in the game. However, with PASPA’s demise and the revelation that states are making millions of dollars from legal sports gambling activity, more leagues and teams are now rallying to see more expansion.Despite having its name prominently featured in a gambling game (Texas Hold’em poker), Texas is not very friendly when it comes to gambling. It has repeated fought efforts to allow any type of casino or sportsbook, even though it doesn’t have a problem with lotteries. The times are changing, though, and Texas is trying to change with them; however, finding enough support for sports gambling isn’t going to be easy. The chair of the Travis County Republican Party, Matt Mackowiak, told The Dallas Morning News, “My view is that Texas is going to be one of the ten last states to allow [casino] gambling. I do think [sports gambling is] is a lighter lift, and it may be where they end up.”It all boils down to money. Some estimates have indicated that as much as $2.5 billion could be leaving the state to be spent on sports wagers elsewhere. As is already well established, sports gamblers are going to gamble whether it’s legal or not and will find a way to place their bets. By allowing sportsbooks, Texas will be able to benefit from the tax revenue, as well as better protect consumers.The executive VP and chief brand officer of the Dallas Cowboys, Charlotte Jones Anderson (also the daughter of team owner Jerry Jones), told the media outlet, “Unregulated and illegal sports gambling is already taking place in the State of Texas. Legalized sports betting would regulate the industry and generate hundreds of millions of dollars of new revenue for the state, which will help fund critical programs without raising taxes.” That has been the reason why sportsbooks have been approved in other states, and will likely help convince Texans to sign off on a measure in their neck of the woods, as well.