There has been a lot of buzz pertaining to the legalization of sports betting in the United States but Texans are unlikely to reap any benefits from the much-awaited lift of the federal ban. So, if you are a resident of Texas and you were looking forward to plunking down some Super Bowl or Final Four wagers with legal bookies within your Texan locality in the near future, you might have to put your dreams on hold.
Even though the federal ban could be overturned by the United States Supreme Court as early as spring, observers are convinced that it will be very unlikely that Texas’ Governor Greg Abbott or the state’s legislature will take the opportunity to support the legalization of sports betting in the state – this is even after putting into consideration the huge economic impact that it would bring. To elaborate on this, financial experts estimate that a legal and regulated sports gambling market in Texas has the potential of boosting its economy by about $1.7 billion annually while at the same time creating over 9,300 jobs.
Critics of the bill argue that the legalization of sports gambling through the abolishment of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act will come with some inevitable negatives. These include the need for more social services such as counseling for people who will eventually develop gambling-related problems. Also, there will be the need for more government bureaucracy to oversee and regulate the gambling industry.
“The biggest base of opposition (to the expansion of legal gambling in Texas) is a moral one and comes from political conservatives — and they are a powerful constituency in the state right now,” said Jim Henson, the director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas. “So you have to look at the chances being pretty slim at this point.”
Currently, Texas has very strict anti-gambling laws that only allow for legal gambling in the state’s lottery. These laws further limit legal gambling in the state to some pari-mutuel wagering on horse and dog racing as well as social gambling such as charity bingo. Texas legislators have not been very welcoming to the idea of expanding these existing forms of gambling that they already have control of.
“I think a pretty good chunk of the (Texas) Senate and the House would be against legalized betting on sporting events,” said JoAnn Fleming, executive director of Grassroots America-We the People, a tea party-aligned organization that is usually perceived to be pulling the strings of conservative Texas lawmakers. “It would face an uphill battle.”