Sports Bets Ban New Legislative Priority
for GOP in Slap at Convention Sponsors

Capitol Inside
May 24, 2024

SAN ANTONIO - The Texas Republican Convention's first general session got under way on Thursday with a speakers sandwiched on the stage between two giant screens with the logo for a coalition of sponsoring firms that specialize in fantasy sports and gambling on players and games.

But that didn't stop the Republicans in San Antonio from tentatively endorsing a new list of priorities for the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature to pursue the next time it meets with the party's first proposed prohibition on sports betting.

The Legislative Priorities Committee permanent report features 14 formal objectives for lawmakers to consider in 2025 - almost double the number that delegates at the state convention two years ago approved in eight categories.

The new recommendations are included under the heading Don't Gamble Texas' Future with a call for "preserving the constitutional bans on casino gambling and sports betting."

The GOP here has been opposed as a group to the expansion of gambling with casino as its chief fear up to now. The Republicans have registered their opposition in Texas party platforms for years.

But the party didn't have the subject on the legislative priorities list that emerged from the state convention in Houston in 2022. The addition of sports betting to the party's wish list for bans is a first.

The Republicans got a wake up call last spring when the Texas House approved a sports betting measure that Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick ordered the Senate's GOP majority to kill without a vote. The prevailing sentiment in Austin is that casinos and sports wagering is inevitable and would pass if Patrick reversed course and offered his blessings.

Patrick, an immigrant from Maryland, is the self-appointed guardian of Texas values, history and morality. But Governor Greg Abbott abandoned his opposition to casino gambling last year after reaping seven-digit sums from private interests that see the Lone Star State as the next great frontier.

Patrick has been silent up to now on the fantasy sports group's sponsorship of the state convention in the Alamo City where he spoke to delegates on Thursday.

The expanded list of legislative priorities list has new issues with calls for the abolishment of property taxes, judicial accountability, securing the Texas power grid, "shared" or "equal" parenting and bans on taxpayer funded lobbying and investment in land here by residents of China and other selective countries.

The companies in the fantasy sports coalition offer betting in other states on games and players. They also host fantasy leagues that are legal under current Texas law. But profits would soar if Texas legalzed sports betting.

more to come ...







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