The Houston Rockets fell to the Golden State Warriors Monday night, even though Houston was favored to win. We might have even wagered a nickel or two on the Rockets – had that sort of thing been legal, of course.
Placing a legal bet in Texas doesn’t sound quite as far-fetched as it did just a couple days ago, though. On Monday, the Supreme Court struck down the law that prevented states from legalizing sports gambling.
Wesley Cochran, a professor at the Texas Tech University School of Law who teaches courses in both sports law and gaming law, says sports gambling could certainly be in the cards in Texas.
“The Legislature has the authority to propose constitutional amendments which might legalize casino-style gaming in Texas,” Cochran says, “but that would take a two-thirds vote of both the House of Representatives and the State Senate, and at this point, it’s not clear that there are enough votes to do that. In the last several sessions of the Legislature, there have literally been dozens of bills introduced to amend the constitution to allow for gaming. But they really haven’t gotten any traction.”
Cochran says that, no matter what bills are passed, there will always be an illegal market for gambling.
“Either the person wants to set a bet at a higher limit than state law will allow, or they just don’t want to have their name associated with sports betting,” he says. “It very well may be that even if Texas gets legalized betting, there will still be some underlying illegal market.”
Cochran says that while some state legislatures think of sports betting as a cash cow, it’s not a particularly significant source of tax revenue.
“They operate on a fairly narrow profit margin,” he says. “Something in the nature of four or five, maybe six percent.”
He says there’s a good possibility that sports betting will become legal in Texas – but it’s not likely to happen soon.
Written by Jen Rice.