The Texas AG has been a foe of FanDuel, DraftKings in daily fantasy sports
Legal Sports Report

Texas Attorney General Paxton: Sports Betting Ban ‘Tramples On State Sovereignty’

Texas AG sports betting
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called the federal sports betting ban unconstitutional, according to a group advocating for the law’s repeal.

Texas AG talks sports betting

Here’s what Paxton said, per the American Sports Betting Coalition:

Paxton’s was one of 18 AGs from around the country that co-signed an amicus brief that is siding with New Jersey in its US Supreme Court case about sports betting. At issue in that case is whether New Jersey can partially repeal its laws under the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or if that law unconstitutionally commandeers states into upholding the federal sports betting ban.

Paxton and other state officials generally are not supporting the NJ sports betting case because of any desire their states might have to legalize sports betting. Instead, they see PASPA and the case as having a far-reaching impact on states’ rights.

Interestingly, Paxton also has been a part of efforts asking Congress to ban online gambling.

Paxton vs. Trump

Paxton is usually an unabashed supporter of policies of the administration of President Donald Trump. However, on this case, they don’t see eye to eye.

Trump’s Solicitor General went against New Jersey in filing a brief in the case, siding with the NCAA and the major US pro sports leagues. Those leagues are fighting to keep New Jersey from legalizing sports wagering.

It’s surprising in some ways that Trump would side with the NFL, given recent animosity over the national anthem. It’s also interesting that Paxton would push back against a Trump administration policy and support what would lead to an expansion of gambling in the US. But as the saying goes, politics makes strange bedfellows.

Texas AG has a history with DFS

Adding more intrigue to the quote from Paxton is his history with the daily fantasy sports industry.

Paxton once opined that DFS is illegal gambling under current state law. That led to a settlement with FanDuel for that site to exit the state. Meanwhile, DraftKings proceeded to fight Paxton in court. According to record for the Dallas County civil court system, that case appears to be set for a trial in August 2018.

While Paxton’s stances on sports betting and DFS might seem at odds, they’re really not. With DFS, Paxton was just applying current state law. With sports betting, Paxton is saying his state should have the right to make its own laws on the subject (as it could with DFS.)

Texas failed to legalize DFS during the 2017 legislative session. Texas DFS won’t come up again until 2019, when the legislature next meets. Texas has also seen sports betting legislation surface, but that hasn’t gained any traction.

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Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.