The Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs both propelled themselves past the first round of the NBA playoffs, only to find themselves locked in an in-state rivalry. The I-10 rivalry is always a great matchup for fans to watch as their two local teams battle it out for supremacy. Who doesn’t like to say they’re state champions, especially in Texas?
With two talented teams representing them in this year’s NBA playoffs, Texas as a state should be overjoyed, right? Wrong. Texas is actually the loser in this situation, no matter which team comes out on top.
Right now, it’s the NBA playoffs. But it wouldn’t matter if it was the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers facing off in a series or if the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans both made it to the playoffs. What we’re focusing on is Texas itself - more specifically, how no matter which of their teams wins, the state has lost. Because they’re losing out on the millions, possibly billions, of dollars being spent at sportsbooks outside of their state and outside of this country.
This is because they, like 49 other states in the US, don’t have legal betting on individual games and sports matches.
Why Texas Should Be Leading The Charge For Legal Sports Betting
So you may be wondering why we’re picking on Texas when there are 48 other states to worry about. The fact is, Texas is losing so much more potential business than most of those other states. Sure, there are a couple of big states out there that also need to be called out (Florida, we’re looking at you), but the fact of the matter is they’re still doing something about the fight for sports betting. Texas is not. With some of the biggest sports teams and some of the most avid fans in the country, Texas does not like to lose. So why they would willingly allow themselves to be in a position where they are consistently on the losing side is almost beyond comprehension.
Looking At It From An Economic Standpoint
Did you know that a majority of bettors are more likely to wager on their home team? Most people bet with their heart – now whether or not that’s a mistake is another point entirely. But the fact of the matter is, Texas is home to three of the 30 NBA teams in the country. That’s 10% of the NBA right in your state. 10% of a fan base that would more than likely start betting on games if they had the opportunity. And while 10% of anything might not seem like much, 10% of a few billion is still a pretty impressive sum.
Just last March, Nevada sports books reported that $439.5 million was wagered on basketball, both professional and College. Now, about 60-80% of that was from the NCAA tournament, but that’s to be expected, as it was the March Madness Tournament. I wish I had a concrete way to isolate the spending done on just NBA games but a rough estimate puts it at anywhere from $87.9-175.8 million during that time. And that was just regular season betting. When it comes to the playoffs, figures tend to jump, especially on a heated series.
Texas has two teams playing each other in the second round of the NBA playoffs. Two teams locked in a rivalry that goes back to 1978. Both teams are playing their hearts out in the hopes that they are the team to make it to the next round. I’d say that makes it pretty heated.
So why aren’t Texas lawmakers looking into a way to tap into these funds? It’s not like there aren’t already states that have cleared a path for this to happen – just look at New Jersey. Other states have even taken a passive approach to legal sports betting, passing legislation that would regulate sports betting after the federal law was repealed/amended. But Texas hasn’t even done this. Why?
Why The Conservatives Should Be Pro-gambling Rather Than Continue Their Anti-Gambling Stance
Texas is famously anti-gambling, as it is a stronghold for Conservative politicians. While the mention of Texas lawmakers usually drums up controversy, there is one thing that the traditionally conservative state has going for them – a very successful economic environment. So it begs the question why a state that enjoys bragging about their stable economy refuses to open the doors to a market of untapped potential that cold skyrocket them to the top of the list?
Is it because sports gambling has been accused of harming the players and the organizations? That can’t be it, as we can see just by peeking over at any one of the countries that have legalized sports gambling. They regulate and monitor the gambling so that there’s no chance for scandal to slip through. Nowhere in England or any European country has a player been harmed for not throwing a game nor has a team been found guilty of point shaving. With hundreds of examples negating these claims, I think we can finally put that somewhat flimsy excuse to bed.
But that’s just the fragile leg that PASPA attempts to stand on. Now that we’ve knocked it out from under them, Texas Lawmakers need to see PASPA itself for what it truly is: a funnel for billions of dollars leaving their state (and the country, for that matter). Not to mention a gross invasion of state rights.
Texas Conservatives have got to know by now that their laws are not preventing gambling. What these laws are doing is forcing that money out of Texas. With their anti-gambling laws and lack of casinos and slot machines and poker rooms, an estimated 2.5 billion is being spent in three neighboring states (Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma). The same thing goes with PASPA. As Texas remains neutral in the fight against PASPA, they’re forcing potential economic windfalls overseas. Sports betting is an even bigger market than casino gaming. It holds an estimated price tag of $80-380 billion on the black market.
It’s not even all about dollars and cents. Let’s look at it from a legal standpoint. The Conservatives are huge proponents of the US Constitution, right? So why are they letting themselves lose out on constitutional rights that the federal government has intruded on?
PASPA is one of the biggest violations of the US constitution in history. The US government has overstepped so many bounds by taking away a states’ right to decide whether sports betting should be legal and regulated. The tenth amendment might not be a flashy one but it is an extremely important one. For those who say they are proponents of keeping to the Constitution as closely as possible and keeping US money in the US market, why would Texas lawmakers want to continue to uphold a law like this?
So, What Should Texas Do?
Start looking for a way to get in on the action. Without legislation that either goes against PASPA or at the very least provides a plan for regulated sports betting in Texas after the federal law is repealed or amended, Texas is going to remain the loser in this, and many more playoffs.