TEXAS TRIBUNE – The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed all states to legalize sports gambling. But a ban in Texas remains in place, and recent history suggests that Texas will be in no rush to lift it.
The court ruled on Monday that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a 1992 federal law that barred states from legalizing sports gambling, violates the U.S. Constitution. That ruling came on a New Jersey case born out of the state’s efforts in 2014 to repeal a sports betting ban, allowing the state to regulate such behavior.
“Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority. “Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”
Texas state law currently prohibits sports gambling, and state leaders have shown resistance in the past to changing it.
In November 2015, Gov. Greg Abbott asked state lottery officials to stop collecting information about sports betting games, writing that he did not want the agency to consider any expansions.
“State laws on gaming are to be viewed strictly as prohibitive to any expansion of gambling. This statutory framework is properly intentioned to protect our citizens, and I support it wholeheartedly,” Abbott wrote at the time. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he agreed.
And Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote in January 2016 that fantasy sports sites — which many consider more innocuous than traditional sports betting — are akin to gambling because they involve “partial chance.” The Legislature’s efforts to clarify those distinctions fell flat.
Advocates say sports betting would be an economic boon for states that don’t currently allow it. Opponents fret that sports gambling could draw young people into a practice some view as immoral.