ALL-IN

Here's why Texas should cash in on sports betting and gambling

The No. 1 sports gambling location isn't in Las Vegas. Photo via: NRG Park/Facebook.

A multimillion-dollar ad campaign urging the Texas Legislature to approve casino and sports gambling in the Lone Star State has begun to air on local radio and television. The campaign is funded by the Las Vegas-based Sands Corporation.

Texas is considered the holy grail of states that currently don't allow casino and sports gambling. In fact, the Texas constitution specifically bans casino and sports gambling. That's very specific and weird.

Two bills currently filed in the legislature effectively would amend the state constitution. If the bills are passed by two-thirds majority in both the state House and Senate, voters would get to decide in November if casino and sports gambling come to Texas.

Don't bet on it.

Republicans currently have a majority in both the Texas House and Senate, and they are almost unanimously against legalizing casino gambling in Texas. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has promised that voters will not get to decide whether or not to legalize gambling in Texas. "It won't see the light of day," he said during a radio interview.

Polls, however, show that Texans overwhelmingly favor casino and sports gambling. A recent poll conducted by the Dallas Morning News and UT-Tyler found 57 percent of Texans support casino gambling with only 29 percent opposed. The remaining 14 percent of Texans said it didn't matter to them.

Sports gambling was supported by 43 percent with only 26 percent opposed. The remaining 31 percent may have been too busy filling out their March Madness brackets to respond.

It's understandable why the legislature is not addressing casino and sports gambling. Legislators are more focused on limiting access to the ballot box with measures that critics say are targeted at voters of color, the disabled, and older citizens. Proposed bills would ban overnight early voting and drive-through early voting, both of which boosted voter participation in recent elections in Harris County.

Supporters of the proposed bills say they're necessary to increase election security in Texas, although no widespread voter fraud was found in 2020. The House has approved a bill that would permit Texans to carry handguns without a permit. Our legislature has filed more bills considered anti-LGBTQ than any other state.

Texas is one of only five states that don't allow casino gambling. The others are: Utah, Tennessee, Hawaii, and Alaska. Meanwhile, the Sands Corporation reported that Texans annually spend $2.5 billion in nearby casinos in Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.

The Sands Corporation has presented plans that would build large casino resort complexes (one each) in Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin. The resorts would include hotels, restaurants, retail stores and recreation facilities.

They say the resorts would create thousands of construction jobs and tens of thousands of operating jobs.

Texans who want to bet on sports currently have no shortage of online sites perfectly willing to take their money. The sites do not kick back any revenue to Texas coffers. It should be noted that no Texan has ever been brought up on charges for wagering on sports with online betting sites.

Professional leagues and governing bodies enthusiastically support sports betting. The NFL recently announced long-term deals with the three largest online gambling companies: DraftKings, FanDuel, and Caesars. DraftKings is the official fantasy site for the men's pro tennis tour. Televised tournaments showcase shifting odds while matches are being played. You can wager on which player will win the match, each set, each game, even the next point.

ESPN has a long-term partnership with DraftKings, including a daily betting show on the network. Online betting sites sponsor golf tournaments. The Washington Football Team recently received a sports betting license. Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. has a sports gambling parlor inside the building. Nationals Park and Wrigley Field have applied for on-premises sports books.

The NBA wants a piece of the action. Charles Barkley recently said a team owner told him that profits from gambling will exceed money from television, the life blood of pro sports, within a few years.

The No. 1 sports gambling location isn't in Las Vegas. It's a Starbucks in Fort Lee, New Jersey, the first exit off the George Washington Bridge from New York City.

We are a nation of bettors. Gambling is profitable, maybe not to the bettors, but the "house" makes a fortune. Those chandeliers in casinos weren't free.

If the legislature approves, and voters say yes, Texas would be the house. Twenty-one states and Washington D.C. have sports betting, with many more coming.

Not Texas, though. Somebody needs to clue our representatives who aren't representing us. We don't need the TV weatherman to know it's time to "make it rain" in Texas.

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Houston goes up 1-0 in the series

Altuve, Correa help lift Astros to ALCS Game 1 win over Red Sox

Carlos Correa's go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of ALCS Game 1 helped lift the Astros to a 1-0 series lead. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite one rough loss to the White Sox in the ALDS, the Astros looked like the dominant team they are capable of being, taking that series 3-1 to advance and taking ownership of home-field advantage in the ALCS against the Red Sox, who upset the Rays. In Game 1, despite trailing for the middle portions of the game, Houston would get more highlight moments from the faces of the franchise to start the series with a win.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 4

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek

Losing Pitcher: Hansel Robles

Houston strikes first, but Boston sends Valdez to an early exit

Both starting pitchers worked in and out of trouble in the early goings of ALCS Game 1, starting with Framber Valdez in the top of the first. After erasing a leadoff single by inducing a double play, he went on to load the bases on a single and two walks but would strand all three runners to keep Boston off the board. The Astros jumped in front in the bottom half, with Jose Altuve working a leadoff walk, moving to second on a one-out single by Alex Bregman, advancing to third on a wild pitch, then ultimately scoring on a sac fly by Yordan Alvarez to put Houston ahead 1-0 after one frame.

They had a chance to extend their lead in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a shaky inning by Chris Sale, who loaded the bases with one out as Houston would get two singles and a hit-by-pitch. That flipped the order over to the top, but a great diving catch by former Astro Kiké Hernández would end the inning. Hernández led off the top of the third against Valdez, and he would tie things up with a solo homer.

Things went downhill from there for Valdez and the Astros, as a one-out walk followed by a single gave the Red Sox the go-ahead run in scoring position. On a groundball that likely should have been a double play to end the inning, it would get through Altuve's legs, scoring a run and keeping the inning alive for Boston. They took advantage, getting an RBI double to extend their new lead to 3-1. Valdez would get one more out before Dusty Baker would give him the early hook, bringing in Yimi Garcia, who finished the frame.

A battle of the bullpens, Altuve ties it up

Like Valdez, Sale would also not make it through three innings, getting two outs while putting two on base before Boston would start their bullpen's night as well. Both sets of relievers settled the game down, with the Red Sox stranding two of Houston's runners in the third as well as the fifth, maintaining their two-run lead. After Garcia finished the third, Cristian Javier entered to eat up a couple of innings, and he would do just that by getting through two frames with just one hit, four strikeouts, and no runs.

Next, Phil Maton took over in the top of the sixth and erased a leadoff walk to keep things in striking distance for the home team. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put another runner on base, getting a one-out single by Chas McCormick. Two batters later, with two outs, Jose Altuve provided yet another career postseason highlight, tying the game 3-3 with a two-run home to re-energize the Minute Maid Park crowd.

Astros take ALCS Game 1

Now a brand new ballgame in the top of the seventh, Brooks Raley came in to face three batters, getting two strikeouts while allowing a single before Dusty Baker would move on to Ryne Stanek, who would get the third out. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Carlos Correa continued his march to a monster off-season contract, putting Houston back on top with a solo homer, making it 4-3.

Houston kept the script after Stanek with the new lead in hand, going to Kendall Graveman as the setup man in the top of the eighth. Despite a two-out single, he would get out of the inning with the lead intact, putting Houston three outs away from the victory. After a walk, single, and hit by pitch to start the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, Altuve would drive in his third run of the game, getting a sac fly to extend the lead to two runs at 5-3.

That insurance run proved pivotal, as closer Ryan Pressly was met with a leadoff solo home run by Hernandez, his second of the night for Boston, to make it 5-4. Pressly refocused and was able to get the next three batters in order, though, wrapping up the win to start Houston off with a 1-0 series lead and putting them three wins away from advancing to the World Series.

Up Next: The two teams will have a moderately quick turnaround, with ALCS Game 2 scheduled to start at 3:20 PM Central on Saturday ahead of NLCS Game 1 between the Dodgers and Braves getting the night slot. The pitching matchup is expected to be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his two starts this postseason, going opposite Luis Garcia, who had a rough outing in the ALDS for Houston, giving up five runs without completing three innings in Chicago.

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