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Volume 25 No. 30
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Sports Betting Fallout: Texas Not Likely To Pass Law Any Time Soon

Legal sports gambling in Texas has been a "non-starter for years" with the state Legislature, and residents should not expect such a move "anytime soon" on the issue despite the Supreme Court's ruling that strikes down a federal ban, according to John Gravios of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Gubernatorial runoff candidate Andrew White said that "expanding gambling could generate" an extra $3B for "each two-year budget cycle." However, Republicans "still rule the Legislature and all statewide office in Texas, and they're unlikely to budge." Univ. of Houston professor Brandon Rottinghaus said, "The political risks for Republicans to back expansion are high." He added that "any major expansion would have to go before voters, and that's a tough sell in Texas" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/15). In Dallas, Nicole Cobler reports Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton "hasn't shown any signs of wanting sports betting to be legal in Texas," and he has "been at odds with daily fantasy sports sites for years." Texas allows parimutuel wagering "on horse and dog races and bingo, but efforts to expand gambling since then have gained no traction in the state despite the growth of casinos just across the Oklahoma and Louisiana borders that cater to Texans" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/15). In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel notes Texas Gov. Greg Abbot and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick "would/will shoot down" a proposed measure to legalize sports betting "like they are on a duck hunt." Allowing gaming in Texas would "require changes to state law and buck our conventional conservative values." Texas leadership fighting legalized sports betting "is delaying the inevitable" (Ft. Worth STAR-TELEGRAM, 5/15).

OTHER STATES IN NO HURRY: Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts yesterday noted sports betting "is illegal in Nebraska and we have no plans to change that” (Lincoln JOURNAL STAR, 5/15). Ohio Casino Control Commission Dir of Communications Jessica Franks said there are "no current policies in place that would allow wagering on sports" in the state. Ohio Gov. John Kasich's administration yesterday released a statement that said, "Expanding gambling has not been a priority for this administration, and that remains unchanged" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 5/15). Utah is "one of two states that currently boasts of outlawing all forms of gambling." State Sen. Rodd Weiler said, "Utah has a long history of deciding that they don’t want gambling. I can’t say what will happen 20 years from now, but I don’t see that changing soon" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 5/15). In Richmond, Graham Moomaw reports there was "little evidence" that Virginia officials were "rushing to bring sports betting" to the state. However, the state has "taken several recent steps to suggest Virginia's tough-on-gambling attitude may be softening" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 5/15). Oklahoma House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols said, "I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that this is something Oklahoma will do. But the foregone conclusion is that it is something Oklahoma will analyze" (OKLAHOMAN, 5/15).

INDECISION IN MASSACHUSETTS: Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Democratic state legislative leaders said that they "discussed the high court ruling and its potential ramifications for the state during their regularly scheduled weekly meeting." However, none of them were "willing to commit to a pathway for legally wagering on sports events, with Baker saying a lot more 'homework' needed to be done on the issue" (AP, 5/14). In Boston, Andy Rosen notes Baker did "not indicate whether he favors legalizing gambling on sports events." Baker said it is "something we'll be talking to our colleagues in the Legislature about, probably starting today" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/15). Additionally, it "remains unclear" whether state Attorney General Maura Healey, who "opposed online gambling, plans to fight sports betting" in the state (BOSTON HERALD, 5/15).

STATE NOTES: Washington State Gambling Commissioner Chris Stearns said that changing the state’s "tough anti-gaming laws would require a two-thirds supermajority in the Legislature or a referendum." Stearns said that he has "yet to detect a groundswell of support for such change but acknowledged that could happen" in light of the Supreme Court's ruling (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/15). Kentucky Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said that he did "not know whether the Kentucky Constitution would need to be amended to provide expanded gambling." The state's General Assembly will "not be in session until January, and only the governor can call a special session" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 5/15). Florida has a "compact with the Seminole Tribe that gives them a monopoly on card games like blackjack, but the future of the agreement is in limbo, and sports betting could add a new element to negotiations" (South Florida SUN SENTINEL, 5/15). The Arizona Department of Gaming released a statement yesterday saying that all sports betting "will remain illegal until further action is taken at the state level." A spokesperson "described the decision as 'business as usual' for Arizona" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 5/15). USA TODAY provides a state-by-state guide to sports betting legislation amid the SCOTUS ruling.