Fred Faour: What the Supreme Court ruling on sports betting means for Texas

Don't expect to see betting shops like this one open in Texas. Getty Images

The Supreme Court ruling on Monday morning to strike down anti-sports wagering laws brought an instant positive reaction for those who are pro-gaming. But what does it really mean?

The Supreme Court struck down a 25-year-old law that has prevented sports gaming outside of Nevada. It basically will allow states to decide whether or not to pass sports gaming laws on their own. Many states have anticipated this ruling for months and have already been in the planning stages.

The NFL, NCAA, NBA and NHL had all blocked the decision at lower levels, but the state of New Jersey prevailed in the country’s highest court. Ironically, as it became clear in recent months the law would pass, commissioners of the major sports began to alter their stances, and in fact now want in on the action in some cases. Expect the leagues to try to get compensation from the individual states.

So what happens next? States that are interested will work to get laws passed before football season so wagering can begin then. That deadline might be stretching it, but New Jersey in particular is pretty far along. States that have not been preparing will take longer.

For those thinking that they will suddenly get legalized sports betting, not every state is going to pursue it. Much like legalized marijuana, sports gambling will not be as widespread at first.

CBS News speculated that 14 states (including Nevada) would be up and running inside of two years, with that number growing to as many as 32 in five years. Profootballtalk speculates between six and 10 could be up and running when the season starts.

As an aside, tt will be interesting to see the impact on tourism in Nevada, which suddenly no longer offers any gaming that will not be readily available elsewhere.

The biggest question locally is what does the ruling mean for Texas? The easy answer is one word: Nothing.

The anti-gambling establishment (or, let’s be honest, the pro-other-state gambling establishment) is too ingrained in the Texas State Legislature to ever get anything done. Casino gaming is not close, and sports betting is farther away than that. The neighboring states’ casinos funnel in tons of money to make sure Texas stays out of the gambling business. Poker rooms found a loophole, and it appears Texans will have to be happy with that, horse and greyhound racing and the lottery.

Gov. Greg Abbott wrote in 2015: “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.”

That is the stance of the anti-gaming contingent, but that hasn’t stopped Texans from spending ridiculous amounts of money in neighboring states. So unless there is a significant culture change, don’t expect sports betting in Texas in the next decade -- or even longer.

The good news is that the CBS speculates that within five years you will be able to go to Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas or Louisiana and bet on sports, just like Texans do for casino gaming now. And if you are traveling around the country, you now will have options.

The next few months will be interesting as everyone tries to get in on the action, from states to the sports leagues to individual proprietors. There will be no shortage of fits and starts in getting it up and running. The U.S. has been decades behind Europe when it comes to wagering, and now a multi-billion dollar business is in play, so expect everyone to want to wet their beak. Some states will jump right in, others will wade in, but the good news is that in many states you will be able to legally wager on sports in the next few years.

Just not in Texas.


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