Perhaps no state in the USA has assumed a more hard-line stance against sanctioned gambling than Texas. They have turned town every opportunity and attempt to legalize sports betting in Texas, without a hint of changing their tune. Most recently, the path to sports betting in Texas suffered yet another setback when they voted against the latest commercial casino proposal. And while this isn't much of a surprise, The Lone Star State's distaste for legal wagering suggests they take pride in preventing it. But from where we're standing, we're not even sure Texas sports betting laws are effective.
Make no mistake, opponents of legal sports betting in Texas have some fair points. For the most part, however, the state's continued resistance is hypocritical.
And at the end of the day, their stance against sports betting isn't noble. It's pointless.
Texas Sports Betting Laws Don't Actually Stop Gambling
This is the most obvious knock against Texas sports betting laws. Ditto for every state that continues to oppose legal wagering.
Texans are still betting on sports in 2022, thanks to an endless number of workarounds. For starters, pretty much every bordering state has already legalized sports gambling. That allows residents to easily travel if they want to get their wagering fix. Entering 2022, experts estimated that Texans spend billions of dollars each year on out-of-state sports betting, according to The Dallas Morning News.
And this says nothing of all the online sports betting in Texas that takes place on an international scale. Right now, there are a handful of sites from our reviews of the best online sportsbooks that will allow Texans to set up an account and begin processing deposits, bet slips and payouts.
There's a chance this method of wagering is even more lucrative than out-of-state transactions. After all, most sports bets are submitted online nowadays. In reality, then, all Texas has done is push billions, if not tens of billions, of dollars in potential revenue into other markets, both domestic and international.
Texans Are Allowed to Play Daily Fantasy Sports
Believe it or not, Daily Fantasy Sports are actually allowed in Texas.
To be clear, they aren't legalized in the most literal sense. The Lone Star State just doesn't have any concrete policy against them. A previous ruling stipulated that Daily Fantasy Sports are games of skill rather than chance, which means they don't technically fall under the purview of anti-gambling laws.
This is, objectively, hypocritical.
Sports betting throughout the United States first started getting legalized all the way back in 2018 at least partially because it was determined that wagering on events incorporated more skill than chance. If Texas wants to play the "Game of Luck" card with regards to casinos, that's their prerogative. And to be fair, the federal government decided years ago legal sports betting would be up to each individual state.
Still, it'd be one thing if Texas strictly prohibited Daily Fantasy Sports and all forms of sports betting. They don't. And allowing one without the other doesn't make sense.
Texas Sports Betting Laws Have No Moral High Ground
With Texas no longer expected to roll out legal sports betting before 2024 or 2025 (yes, you're reading that correctly), this is the flawed logic that's now receiving the most attention. Those against sports betting in Texas often cite how gambling entities prey on the less fortunate. Casinos are built in low-income neighborhoods. Sportsbooks disproportionately advertise in those same areas. This is no doubt predatory behavior and something that both states and the federal government need to do a better job of policing.
But prohibiting legal sports betting doesn't actually provide protection to residents who will be unfairly targeted. If anything, it drives them to illegal forms of gambling and the lack of rights and protection that comes with them. As Zach Freeman wrote for The Batt Online:
"Decriminalization and comprehensive legal reform is the only way forward in addressing the problems illegal gambling can have on low-income individuals and preventing future abuses, as well as the impact for-profit policing has on people who are often already hard-pressed financially...Most forms of gambling remain illegal in Texas. This does not stop game rooms, gas stations and other locations from operating their cash-based slot machines and games. This arrangement is a common way for small businesses to make some extra money on the side. Many of them remain discreet enough or outright bribe local police to avoid any trouble with the law.
"These buildings often masquerade as houses, small businesses, and in the South Texas town of Alton, a molecular lab. They can pull in vast amounts of money every day from slot-machine games. They spring up quickly and can be just as quick to disappear to avoid detection. When one gets too much attention and becomes worth the effort to bust, the police will be on the scene confiscating its money and machines. This situation often occurs disproportionately throughout small, poor towns and neighborhoods all over Texas."
Indeed, there would still be issues with illegal gaming establishments if Texas green lit sports betting and installed more casinos. But there would also be an additional layer of protection and enforcement, which is ultimately safer than letting these illicit bookmakers and gambling rooms take advantage of the very people Texas claims they want to protect.
Texas Needs to Get With The Times
Stand on whichever side of the fence you like.
Maybe you care more about the state of Texas willingly missing out on what could be nine figures worth of tax revenue each year. Perhaps you're disgusted by the impact illicit bookies and gambling rooms have on low-income neighborhoods and those who struggle economically. Or maybe you just can't stand how hypocritical Texas has been by ostensibly permitting Daily Fantasy Sports while taking such dramatic measures to avoid sports betting legalization.
Any way you slice it, The Lone Star State is behind the times.
More than half of the United States has now legalized some form of sports betting. And though Texas isn't obligated to follow suit, the laws they have in place to actively prevent sports betting clearly aren't working as intended.
Or, for that matter, at all.
Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works for all your sports betting needs: