Texas could be on the way to legalizing sports betting but, for now, Texans will have to settle for going to neighboring states for their fix.
West Texans can cross the border into New Mexico to place sports bets if they want.
Sports betting in New Mexico
The news that New Mexico would be the next state to offer sports betting came somewhat out of the blue and was a surprise to many. The Pueblo of Santa Ana tribe in New Mexico has partnered with USBookmaking to offer sports betting.
The tribe hopes to offer sports betting on October 16. It will be offered through the tribe’s Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel in Bernalillo, less than 10 miles from Albuquerque.
Since the federal ban on sports betting ended in May by a Supreme Court decision, there has not been much talk about New Mexico getting involved in the race for legalization.
No sports betting bill has passed in New Mexico. However, the way the tribe and its new partner interpret state laws, they are allowed to offer a sportsbook without permission from state officials or the legislature.
The tribe’s gaming compact with the state was renewed in 2015. The renewed compact contains more clear-cut guidelines for the state’s tribal casinos. There was no mention of sports betting. Therefore, because the tribe is allowed to offer class III games, such as sports events wagering, they can proceed with sports betting.
The federal ban was still in place at the time, which meant the tribe’s couldn’t offer sports betting in 2015, but tribes have been making moves since the ban ended.
The compact is not due to be renewed again until 2037. There has been no indication as to whether the state plans to legally challenge these casinos on the sports betting issue.
The impact on Texas
New Mexico borders Texas on the west. Texas has only a single tribal casino, the Kickapoo Luck Eagle Casino in Eagle Pass, located in the south of Texas.
The casino offers more than 3,000 slots machines, a great poker room, and regular bingo games. By interpreting existing rules, New Mexico tribes have found a way to circumvent the need for new rules and regulations. Is this something the Texas tribe could do?
Now that New Mexico offers sports betting, Texans can cross the border and get involved. Previously, there was no way they could access sports betting without flying states such as Nevada or New Jersey. Now West Texans have sports betting nearly on their doorstep.
Texas authorities have been very anti-gambling, but there is no denying the fact that Texas residents regularly engage in sports betting in some shape or form.
The American Gaming Association estimated that $150bn (£114bn) was illegally wagered on sports betting each year in the United States. That was before the federal ban was ended.
Texas is a massive state, and its people love their sports. Therefore, it makes sense that a significant amount of people regularly place sports wagers.
There certainly are no plans to introduce a sports betting bill, but there may be a chance that the state’s only casino could find a loophole to begin operating a sportsbook. This is why many tribes are watching the New Mexico case with close interest.