Perry’s newfound support for sports betting is a surprise to those who kept up with his political career. The longtime servant to Texans voted against gambling expansion in 1986 and expressed anti-gambling sentiments in a letter to Congress in 2014.
Now, Perry believes that Texans are already gambling, and adopting legislation would not create a new market, but rather legalize one that exists.
“I’m not in favor of expansion of gambling,” Perry said in an interview. “This is a regulation of something that’s going on, and it’s not going to go away.”
Part of Perry’s newfound support for the gambling market has seen him join the Sports Betting Alliance, comprised of many online sportsbooks, all of Texas’ major professional sports teams, and spokespeople.
Perry joined the Sports Betting Alliance for what he described as a “fair amount” after being contacted in the summer, a few months before midterm elections. Still, he has remained adamant that he will not become a lobbyist at legislative sessions.
Several states, most notably California, had gambling-related topics up for a vote by the public. In the case of California, Proposition 26 and Proposition 27, both of which would have introduced sports betting to the state for the first time, failed resoundingly, bringing the end of a near-half-billion dollar effort from several major sports betting operators.
Texas was not one of the states that put sports betting on the ballot, but the internal pressure to do so has been building. The Houston Astros, for example, made a statement earlier this year by partnering with sportsbook BetMGM despite the absence of a betting market.