LET IT RIDE

Here's how Texas sports fans can cash in regardless of the outcome

Poll after poll show that Texans favor legalized sports gambling. Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images.

A bill was proposed this week in the Texas Legislature that, if approved, would put legalized sports gambling on the ballot in November and potentially open for business on Jan. 1, 2022.

House Bill 2070: "The Constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to legalize wagering in the state."

Twenty-five states now offer online or in-person gambling on sports events. It's a multi-billion dollar industry that allows states to add revenue without increasing taxes. Colorado, Illinois, Michigan and Virginia allow sports betting for the first time this year. Last November, voters in Louisiana overwhelmingly approved sports gambling and now their state legislators are deciding how to open the betting windows.

The proposed gambling bill in Austin would allow professional teams and horse tracks to operate sports books in their venues. There currently are 13 major league pro teams in Texas, across the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS, NWSL and WNBA. (We'll leave the trivia question: can you name them all for another day.) Three Class 1 horse racing tracks operate in Texas: Sam Houston Race Park in Houston, Retama Park in Selma, and Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie.

Poll after poll show that Texans favor legalized sports gambling. Pro teams support legalized sports gambling. Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank wheeler-dealer Mark Cuban is invested in sports gambling. The state would benefit by regulating – and taxing – sports gambling to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars for education and other money-strapped programs.

So it's just common sense that House Bill 2070 is a solid favorite to win passage in the Texas Legislature, right?

I wouldn't bet on it. In order to pass, the bill would have to win two-thirds majority in both the Texas House of Representative (100 of 150 votes) and Texas Senate, (21 of 31 votes). There's where the problem lies, particularly in the Senate, where Republicans hold an 18-13 majority.

If the longshot comes in, and the Legislature approves sports gambling, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott would not have the power to veto it. However, leading the death knell for legalized sports gambling in Texas is Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

"I've never been in favor of it. We are nowhere close to having the votes for it. I don't spend much time on it because the members are just against it," Patrick said on a radio show in Lubbock. "It's not even an issue that's going to see the light of day this session."

These are our public servants. Former Gov. Rick Perry says that Texans would rather endure days of no electricity in freezing temperatures than join a national power grid that keeps Minnesotans toasty on 30-below winter nights. Sen. Ted Cruz abandons shivering, flooded-out Texans for a vacation in Cancun, lies about it, throws his children under the bus, and then calls people who exposed his cowardly scheme "a-holes." Dan Patrick is dead set on killing sports gambling in Texas. Our representatives aren't so good at representing us.

The thing is, Texas already has legalized sports gambling. OK, it might not officially be on the up and up, but anybody can jump online and find sports gambling sites based in Canada or the Caribbean or Europe and bet on everything from will the Rockets cover Wednesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers (they didn't) what color Gatorade will be poured on the winning Super Bowl coach (Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians was doused in blue Gatorade), to Best TV comedy at the Golden Globes this Sunday (I'm all in on Schitt's Creek).

Sports betting is rampant in Texas. Local bookies are brazen, they have their own wide-open websites. I used to patronize a betting site called Sportsinteraction. I had no idea where it was based until I got a payout from the Wells Fargo bank in Dublin, Ireland. Texans do everything regarding sports gambling except pay taxes to Texas. Who's the loser in that?

Meanwhile the safest bet in sports gambling seems to be investing in publicly traded sports betting companies. Penn National Gaming stock is up 260 percent from last year, and DraftKings, which is partnered with ESPN, saw its stock price reach a record high this month.

You want a hot betting tip: buy stock in a gambling company and, as DraftKings spokesperson Jessie Coffield says, "make it rain."

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The Rockets selected Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images.

The city of Houston can finally rejoice as Jalen Green was selected as the number two pick by the Rockets at the 2021 NBA Draft. It was already suspected that the Rockets would draft Green from past reports. Shams Charania of The Athletic already reported that the Rockets narrowed their decision down to Green.

Green is an explosive shooting guard that can get in-and-out amongst the perimeter and paint. With the G-League Ignite, he averaged 17.9 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He is an excellent free throw shooter at 82.9 percent. Like James Harden, he is incredibly good at getting to the free throw line. Green has a good trigger from three by shooting 36.5 percent on 5.7 attempts a game. His mature status since high school has prepared him for the NBA.

"His down-hill playmaking is really hard to guard", as Joey Fucca, his ex-coach told TDS. "If he says he's going to get to the rim, good luck. He is very good at getting to the free throw line, he is also very explosive to finish above the rim. When his three ball is on, you're just going to have a long night. I wouldn't be excited to guard him."

Green has blistering speed with outstanding handles to blow by his defenders and score. Spectators have compared Green to a younger Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Bradley Beal, and Zach Lavine, which are superstar players. He is a particularly good midrange shooter underneath the perimeter, as he shot 35 percent on a small quantity of attempts in a shorter season.

"Jalen is a uniquely blessed guy. He's a transcendent athlete," as Rockets GM Rafael Stone said. "He can handle the ball, and he can shoot. Normally, people that athletic aren't as skilled. We think that combination of tools makes him an extraordinarily exciting prospect."

During his press conference on Thursday night, Green emphasized the achievements he wants to accomplish with the Rockets. Green even discussed his desire of being a better defender, as he wants to continue to get better. He has a great wingspan and lateral movement to stay with opposing players on defense and be disruptive in the passing lanes.

"They're going to say it's a great choice," Green said. "Rookie of the Year, All-Star, All-Defense, max contract. We're doing it big."

"Yeah, I think I can be that piece. I think I'm going to bring that dominant mentality, that defensive mindset…They already got a lot of star players"

As the draft continued, the Rockets sent future draft picks from the Wizards to land the 16th pick in the draft, which was 6'10 Alperen Sengun from Turkey. The 16th pick did belong to the Oklahoma City Thunder until Rafael Stone executed an interesting deal with Sam Presti.

"We did not think he would fall to us at 23, so we were really aggressive to try and move up all throughout the first round to acquire him," as Stone said.

Sengun's abilities on the court revolve around his post ups and skillful passing. He even maintains good feet along the baseline. In his press conference, he mentioned his passing skills can become better. There are clips of him looking impressive on shovel passes, passing the ball behind his back, and finding the cutting man towards the basket. Sengun looked good in double teams by showing he can still find the open man with his back turned.

While playing in the Turkish Super League, Sengun was an MVP at 18-years-old, averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assist, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. He could be another huge figure next to Christian Wood on the court, and a safety blanket for the Rockets if they cannot bring back Kelly Olynyk.

Usman Garbua is similar to former Rocket Luc Mbah a Moute. He is 6'8 with a tremendous wingspan at 7'3 and can guard anyone on the court, which is 1-5. Garbua was seen guarding Kevin Durant in the Team USA vs. Spain matchup and had interesting battles. The Rockets will get a ton of energy out of the 19-year-old player. He knows how to run the floor in transition, so he can finish around the rim. As I see it, he could be on a defensive first team in the future as he matures more. Garbua will become a defensive nightmare against opposing players.

"I think he's the best defender in the world outside of the NBA, and he's just 19 years old," Stone said. "I think he potentially could be really, really impactful on that side of the ball."

As the Rockets made their last selection, they selected Green's AAU buddy, Josh Christopher from Arizona State. He impressed a ton of scouts during his draft workouts and scrimmage against other prospects. Christopher had a double-double during his third scrimmage, which was 16 points and 10 rebounds. He is a very shifty guard with a ferocious step back.

While playing with the Sun Devils, he averaged 14.3 points per game and shot 49 percent from the field. Just like Green, he loved the midrange opportunities, as he shot 49.6 percent underneath the perimeter. He is another shifty big body the Rockets will have in their back court at 6'5. Christopher is very good at rebounding and playing defense. Stone loves watching him in defensive one-on-one situations. Christopher has Sixth Man of the Year written all over him because of his stocky body type and upside.

Hopefully, the Rockets have an exciting summer league and training camp along with their season.

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