Written By Darren Cooper on June 13, 2022
Winnings Lottery

Wearing a sharp matching pantsuit and her hair pushed back in a wave, Ann Richards showed up at Polk’s Feed Store in Oak Hill just before 6 a.m. a little more than 30 years ago to do something no one in Texas had ever done.

Buy a scratch-off lottery ticket

The legend says that then-Governor Richards’s ticket was dry May 29, 1992. But the Texas Lottery has made the state a big winner for the last 30 years. 

The Texas Lottery has generated more than $34 billion in revenue for education, veterans services and state projects. 

It set a record during the fiscal year of 2021 with $8.107 billion in sales, the 11th year in a row it had set such a mark.

Like everything else in Texas, the Lottery is bigger. The Texas Lottery currently offers nine weekly or daily jackpot drawings. It offers 67 current scratch-off games (neighboring Louisiana has 32). It has celebrated its 30th anniversary with multiple new games and offers.

“We take our mission to generate revenue for the State of Texas through the responsible mgmt. and sale of entertaining lottery products very seriously. The 30-year mark at the Texas Lottery is a major milestone and indeed worthy of a celebration,” said Texas Lottery Commission Director Robert G. Rivera in a release noting the anniversary.

The first day to play

The idea of a Texas Lottery started back in July of 1991 in the state legislature. It was House Bill 54, if you’re looking for a lucky number.

The bill passed a vote in November of that year but needed ratification by the state’s constituents, who agreed to the measure by a nearly 2-to-1 count. Susan Holton created the well-known, still-used logo of a tossed Cowboy hat and confetti in celebration.

Lone Star Millions was the first scratch-off game. Tickets went on sale 47 days earlier than expected and found a ravenous Texas audience. 

The first day of sales were reported as $23.2 million, a then-world record. In the first week, over $102.4 million worth of tickets were sold, another world record at the time. The first Texas Lotto drawing was Nov. 7, eight weeks ahead of schedule.

The Texas Lottery was off and running.

Special games and prizes make Texas Lottery shine

While other states keep their scratch-off tickets at low price points, Texas goes bigger.

In 2004, the Texas Lottery Commissioner offered a $30 scratch-and-win card: Holiday Million Wishes. In 2007, Texas became the first U.S. state to offer a $50 scratch-off ticket and added to that roster in 2009 with the $50 dollar Extreme Payout game with three top prizes of $10 million each.

Chump change. In May, the Texas Lottery Commission introduced the first US lottery scratch ticket for $100, the $20 Million Supreme. The jackpot is four cash prizes of $20 million.

Like I said, even the scratch-off tickets are bigger in Texas.

The current jackpot drawings offered in Texas are the multi-state Powerball and Mega Millions drawings. Texas also still offers the original Texas Lotto, the Texas Two Step, All or Nothing, Pick 3, Daily 4 and Cash 5 games.

The All Or Nothing concept has been adopted by other communities. A buyer picks 12 numbers out of 24. If they hit all 12, they win. If they don’t get any of the 12, they also win.

Where does the money go?

Starting in 2009, the legislature directed the Texas Lottery Commission to create a scratch-off ticket solely for providing revenue for the Texas Veterans Commission Fund. That game has now provided over $181 million for veterans programs through grants and Veterans service organizations.

The majority of the Texas Lottery revenue goes back to the players to a tune of 66.8 percent. 5.3 percent is pushed back to the retailers who sell the tickets, 3.3 percent pays for the Lottery Administration crew.

That leaves 24.3 percent for the Texas Foundation School Fund, which is used for public education institutions in the state.

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Darren Cooper

Darren Cooper was born and raised in Southern Louisiana, just a short pirogue ride away from New Orleans. He started his journalism career at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and has been a writer and columnist in New Jersey since 1998. He’s won 14 statewide press awards and earned his first Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 award in 2022.

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Written By Frank Weber on June 7, 2022
trip to Vegas

Coming off of a four-win season, it’s hard to believe that Texans fans will have any games circled on the 2022-23 season calendar. However, a Week 7 game in Vegas is enough to excite anyone. Here’s a guide to a perfect road trip to Vegas for Texans fans.

This is one of those opportunities that any sports betting Texans fan will not want to miss, especially with legal sports betting unavailable in The Lone Star State.

The only issue, though, is that Allegiant Stadium is a whopping 1,422 miles from NRG Stadium. That’s almost 23 hours of non-stop driving! So I’m here to make that trip a bit more manageable. I’m using NRG Stadium as my starting point.

Stop 1: The Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino Hotel

Distance from last stop: 348 miles

Why not start your trip off with a little bit of gambling? The Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel is located in Eagle Pass, Texas, which is about 5 1/2 hours from NRG. The casino has slots, bingo and poker, as well as dining and nightlife options.

The Lucky Eagle seems to always be hosting live music events as well, so maybe you’ll get lucky and catch a show. The casino has a hotel attached to it, so you won’t have to worry about where you’ll spend the first night or two of your trip.

Here at the Lucky Eagle, you can shake off any bad gambling vibes. Or, if you’re lucky, you can pick up some good ones.

Stop 2: The Inn of The Mountain Gods

Distance from last stop: 552 miles

This will be the longest leg of the trip, but if you’re up for it, it’s definitely worth it. The Inn of the Mountain Gods is a resort casino located in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Along with the casino (which is home to a sportsbook), the resort includes:

  • State-of-the-art spa
  • Top-50 rated golf course
  • Award-winning dining
  • Zip lines, boat rides and more

If you don’t trust me, trust your peers. The Inn has more than 9,000 reviews on Google, averaging 4.4 out of 5 stars. Additionally, on your way to the inn, you can stop by the International UFO Museum and Research Center, which is just two hours east (and on the way) to Ruidoso.

Stop 3: Grand Canyon National Park

Distance from last stop: 519 Miles

I mean come on, who doesn’t want to see the Grand Canyon? Also, online sports betting is legal in Arizona, so you’ll be able to place your bets for the Texans game online from anywhere in the state.

If the 519 miles is too much, you can always stop at Wigwam Village Motel No. 6, which is 347 miles from the last stop. It’s only a 3-hour drive from the Wigwam Village to The Grand Canyon.

Stop 4: Allegiant Stadium

Distance from last stop: 275 Miles

Well, we made it! I’m proud of you.

This is why it was all worth it – a Texans game in Las Vegas! The stadium is just minutes away from the Las Vegas strip, so you can spend as much time as you want in Vegas.

All in all, this should be a fantastic road trip, whether you stick to my plan or not. There are a ton of attractions between NRG and Allegiant.

  • Red Rock Crossing (Sedona, AZ)
  • White Sands National Park (Alamogordo, NM)
  • Biosphere 2 (Tucson, AZ)

Either way, this is a sports bettor’s dream, thanks to all the casino options I listed that are along the way. It should be a fun Week 7 for Texans fans in Las Vegas.

Especially after Houston wins.

Photo by John Locher/Associated Press
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Frank Weber

Frank Weber is a US-based gambling writer with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He loves baseball, football, basketball, soccer, and the UFC, and even collects sports cards and memorabilia in his spare time. In his free time, you could find Frank either out at a concert with friends, or at home sweating out all his bets.

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Written By Fairway Jay on May 25, 2022
PGA Golf

Following last week’s PGA Championship in Tulsa, the PGA Tour moves 300 miles South across the Texas border to Fort Worth for the Charles Schwab Challenge. Texas golfers are ones to watch again in the final PGA Tour event of the year in the Lone Star state with sunny skies and hot temperatures hitting 90 Friday through Sunday.

Nearby Dallas residents and former Texas Longhorns and Masters champions Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth were the most popular players to win last week, and are again leading the way at Colonial Country Club for the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Those two top 10 players in the world are joined by Plano resident Will Zalatoris, who moved up to No. 14 in the world golf rankings this week after a runner-up finish and disappointing defeat in a playoff at the PGA Championship.

Justin Thomas was the PGA Championship winner for the second time, and he’s in the field this week at No. 5 in the world. Thomas is one of six top-10 golfers joining Scheffler (1), Collin Morikawa (4), Viktor Hovland (7), Spieth (9) and Sam Burns (10).

While there are few positive signs for the prospect of legal sports betting in Texas, it’s still worth tracking the odds and players generating the most wagering interest.

The 77th edition of the tournament starting May 26 is the longest-running non-major on Tour contested on the same course.

Odds and featured groups led by Scheffler and Spieth

The odds to win the Charles Schwab Challenge can change right up to Thursday’s tee times, and then adjust following each round.

Here are the leading favorites and contenders to win the Charles Schwab Challenge, according to current odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.

  • +1200: Scheffler, Thomas, Spieth
  • +1800: Morikawa
  • +1900: Hovland
  • +2400: Zalatoris
  • +2900: Max Homa, Sam Burns
  • +3200: Tommy Fleetwood, Abraham Ancer, Tony Finau
  • +3400: Sungjae Im
  • +3600: Webb Simpson, Chris Kirk
  • +4100: Daniel Berger, Talor Gooch

Defending champion Jason Kokrak has odds to win of +4800.

Jordan Spieth – the face of golf for FanDuel

Jordan Spieth is the ‘face of golf‘ for FanDuel, having signed a partnership agreement with the company last summer. Spieth is an exclusive sports betting and FanDuel daily fantasy provider, and also represents the company in delivering responsible gambling initiatives.

Spieth is also a co-favorite to win the Charles Schwab Challenge. No golfer in the field has a strong history of success at Colonial. Spieth won the tournament in 2016 and also has three runner-up finishes, including in last year’s tournament. He also has the best scoring average at Colonial since 2015 (67.5), and the best birdies or better average (4.86) in his golf stats profile.

Colonial Country Club

Nicknamed ‘Hogan’s Alley’ after five-time Colonial winner Ben Hogan, Colonial Country Club is an old-fashioned style course that requires an emphasis on tee-ball and ball-striking accuracy and strategy.

The 7,209-yard par 70 is for shot shapers and shot makers. Sharp iron play and ball striking are rewarded. Putting also becomes a more important strokes gained statistic at Colonial. Golfers with the best short games have typically done well, and the list of winners at Colonial is filled with top ball strikers.

Texas golfers in Charles Schwab Challenge

The field at Colonial is also filled with golfers that have Texas connections.

  • Scottie Scheffler: Dallas, University of Texas
  • Jordan Spieth: Dallas, University of Texas
  • Will Zalatoris: Plano
  • Abraham Ancer: San Antonio
  • Harry Higgs: Dallas, SMU
  • Austin Smotherman: Dallas, SMU
  • Dylan Frittelli: Austin, University of Texas
  • Beau Hossler: Austin, University of Texas
  • Ryan Palmer: Colleyville, Texas A&M
  • Sebastian Munoz: University of North Texas
  • Carlos Ortiz: University of North Texas

Also, former SMU golfer Bryson DeChambeau withdrew from the tournament Tuesday as he continues to recover from hand surgery.

A recent survey shows that most Texans support gambling and sports betting, and only 26% oppose sports betting legalization in Texas. Fans of Texas can follow all the sports betting and gambling news in the Lone Star state at PlayTexas.

Photo by Eric Gay/Associated Press
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Fairway Jay

FairwayJay is a leading national sports and betting analyst. He reports, researches and writes on industry news and events providing insight and information you can bet on to engage and assist the avid fan. FairwayJay’s tee-to-green coverage and contributions are provided throughout the PlayUSA network. Follow on Twitter: @FairwayJay

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Written By J.R. Duren on May 23, 2022Last Updated on May 24, 2022
Gambling Promotion

It’s not the wake-up call you want to receive.

This past week, the Bexar County Sherrif’s Organized Crime Group and SWAT executed an early morning raid of an illegal gambling ring on the south side of San Antonio. The bust is another in the latest in a crackdown on outlaw gambling throughout the state.

“At this point, I would consider this a resounding success,” Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said in a press conference after the raid. “They said this place has been actually continuously operating for 10 years now. So thankfully we were able to get in and get it shut down, and see where the owners go from here.”

Deputies rammed gate to get in, found cash, ATM, weapons

If you happened to be walking near the intersection of East Harding Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue around a week ago, you would’ve seen a SWAT team pull up to a house and quickly smash their way through a gate.

On the other side of that gate? Possibly an armed guard and an illegal gambling outfit that had run their racket for a decade. Photos from the scene reveal that law enforcement came away from the scene with at least one person in custody. They also procured a cash counter or storage box with a big stack of bills of an unknown denomination.

Law enforcement also recovered what look to be a pair of amateurish signs touting keno, slots, and other games. Deputies found dozens of gambling machines, two weapons, an ATM, a safe, and a sizable stash of cash.

Salazar said in an interview after the raid that his team was still counting the money found at the scene. He added that a literal bag of money they found at the scene contained $15,000.

Salazar’s team had to call in the fire department to help bust open the ATM, he said.

“You may have seen the fire department come,” Salazar said. “That was a technical group that came to help us out with gaining entry to an ATM and SAFE that was there.”

Video from the sheriff’s office shows what looks like a member of the fire department using a sizable saw to cut into the ATM.

In total, three people were arrested for their alleged connection to the gambling ring. A fourth person was arrested for alleged possession of methamphetamine, according to Salazar. The sheriff added that the three arrested for maintaining the gambling operation will face various charges.

Gambling den was illegal, but it was polite

The Bexar County Sheriff’s department showed video of the gambling area. At what is presumed to be the entrance of the gambling parlor is a list of rules written in cursive on a sheet of paper. The rules included such pleasantries as:

  • Please call before arrival. Also, when inviting new players, you must call for approval prior to arriving.
  • Please do not ask for money from other players, attendants, management, or owners. You will be asked to leave.
  • Refreshments are complimentary while playing. Please do not take to go.
  • Please be considerate of our neighbors. No loud music while driving in or out.

Additionally, an entrance to the facility reminded players there were nightly games and a $10,000 cap on betting. In addition, standing around without playing was not allowed.

Inside the facility, there are multiple black video gambling cabinets number with black and white stickers. At least one machine had a yellow and white sign that said, “Don’t Skip the Tip.”

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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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Written By Frank Weber on May 24, 2022
support casino gambling

A recent survey conducted by the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler asked Texas residents for their opinions on gambling in the Lone Star State. The results show that most surveyed Texans support casino gambling and sports betting.

Texas has some of the harshest gambling laws in the country. Under current Texas law, the only forms of legal gambling are:

  • Parimutuel wagering (on horses, greyhounds, etc.)
  • Charitable gaming
  • Gambling at regulated Native American casinos (of which there are three)
  • Texas State Lottery

Where there’s a will, there’s a way

Attempts have been made to pass sports betting and casino gaming legislation in Texas, but it’s a lot easier said than done. Since gambling is banned by the Texas Constitution, it would take two bills to legalize sports betting. The first would be an amendment to the constitution, which would require two-thirds of both the House and Senate to pass. The second bill would have to decide details of licensing and regulation. This is where some states get hung up.

Many believe the gambling issue is simply not on politicians’ radars. Christian Life Commission lobbyist Robert Kohler agrees:

“Folks that are getting elected are not going to their communities and saying, ‘If you send me to Austin, I’ll vote for casinos, or fantasy sports or sports wagering.’ Until that day comes, I don’t see the needle moving.”

Of course, there is one factor that always moves the needle: Money. It’s projected that Texans spend $2.5 billion annually gambling in neighboring states. So the money is obviously there. And according to this recent survey, so is the support.

Most surveyed Texans support casino gambling and sports betting

Of those surveyed, 57% of people support casino gambling in Texas. Comparing that to the 29% that oppose it (13% were indifferent), you can clearly see support is there.

65% of respondents recognize the economic impact it would have. They said it would either help the state economy by “a great deal” or a “fair amount.”

The support doesn’t stop at the casinos. 43% of people showed their support for sports betting legalization, while 26% opposed it. A whopping 31% were indifferent.

Most opposed to gambling and sports betting are self-proclaimed white evangelicals. This group routinely blocks expansion of gambling in Texas. With that in mind, it’s important to note that 52% of white evangelicals surveyed were in support of casino gaming. So, opposition may be diminishing.

The future of sports betting in Texas

The Texas Legislature meets every other year, so their failure to legalize sports betting in 2021 kicked the issue down the road until 2023. Even if lawmakers approve sports betting, Texans will have to sign off at the ballot box.

According to the Texas Tribune, a majority of voters in Texas are 65 or older. This could hinder legalizing sports betting. Older folks tend to be against gambling of any form.

The first step rests with Texas politicians. Some receive substantial contributions from out-of-state casinos, so the money in their pockets may sway them more than the potential economic boost.

The Chickasaw Nation, which owns WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma, has donated more than $15 million to political interests – many of them in Texas.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Frank Weber

Frank Weber is a US-based gambling writer with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He loves baseball, football, basketball, soccer, and the UFC, and even collects sports cards and memorabilia in his spare time. In his free time, you could find Frank either out at a concert with friends, or at home sweating out all his bets.

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Written By Tyler Andrews on May 21, 2022
Longhorns record

Scottie Scheffler’s brilliant performance at Augusta National this year brought the University of Texas at Austin (UT) its third green jacket. And a lone spot in the PGA record books: Most College Alums to win a Masters Tournament (3).

Scheffler (25) graduated from UT in 2018 where he played for four years and brought the team three BIG 12 championships. Among other notable distinctions, Scheffler was named the “Phil Mickelson” Freshman of the Year in 2015.

He joins Jordan Spieth who played at UT for two years (2011-2012) and won the NCAA championship in his freshman year. He turned pro after the 2012 season and won the Masters in 2015.

Ben Crenshaw played at UT for three years (1971-1973). And, he was a member of a dominant Longhorn golf team that won the NCAA championship all three years Crenshaw was there. He went pro after the 1973 season and won a Green Jacket in 1984 and then again in 1995.

Scheffler’s win separates UT from three other colleges with two Masters victories apiece. Those colleges are:

  • University of Houston (*)
  • University of Georgia (**)
  • Stanford University

We’ve been tracking Scheffler and a few other top golfers and hoping that legislators would make Texas sports betting legal. However, it’s still a work in progress and we’re keeping our eye on proponents like Beto O’Rourke to help push it along.

Houston Cougars

UH alums Fuzzy Zoeller who played for three years at Houston before turning pro, and Fred Couples who played for two both have one green jacket a piece. Zoeller adds the notable distinction of winning the Masters in his first appearance (1979).

Couples won his green Jacket in 1992. The asterisk for Houston represents the great Nick Faldo who won a Masters in 1989 after attending UH. However, the Brit never finished a semester in his American collegiate career, so adding him to the list isn’t entirely fair.

Georgia Bulldogs

The Bulldogs have two Masters Champions. One in Bubba Watson, who won the Masters in 2012 and 2014, and Patrick Reed, winner in 2018. They, like Houston, also have an asterisk in this list due to a counting error at the 1968 Masters that led to Bob Goalby, Bulldog alum, winning the Green Jacket.

Goalby’s win is not often cited alongside Watson’s and Reed’s in the annals of Bulldog golf because it came on something of a technicality. After four rounds Goalby had tied Robert De Vicenzo and was set for a playoff. But De Vicenzo had tragically made an error on his scorecard, giving himself one more stroke than he had.

So, while the two were officially tied after 72 holes, De Vicenzo scored his card incorrectly putting him one stroke behind Goalby. He then signed the card before catching the error. Which, per the rules of golf, sealed his fate and gave Goalby the victory.

Stanford Cardinal

The Cardinal own a PGA distinction of their own with seven Masters Victories. This outpaces Ohio State’s six (all by the great Jack Nicklaus) and Wake Forest’s four (the work of the great Arnold Palmer).

Tiger Woods’s run of five Green Jackets leads the way for Stanford and Tom Watson contributes the other two.

Lighting the tower

After Scheffler won the Masters this past April, UT lit the clock tower burnt orange in his honor. The tower burnt bright into the night. And it rose high enough into the Austin sky for all the other colleges in the country to see and take note: The Longhorns now stand alone.

Photo by David J. Phillip / Associated Press
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Tyler Andrews

Tyler is the Managing Editor of play-texas.com, covering sports, sports law, and gambling for the Lone Star State. He also contributes on similar topics for PlayCA, PlayFlorida, PlayOhio, and PlayMA. Tyler’s current focus is Texas’s pathway to gaming legalization.

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Written By Tyler Andrews on May 20, 2022
Sports Betting Companies

When Ed O’Bannon took the NCAA to court in 2014, NCAA president Mark Emmert struggled on the stand to address the topic of NIL. He claimed that Name Image and Likeness partnerships exploited players, while considering companies like Nike putting logos on jerseys that players wear as “fine.”

Emmert and the NCAA lost that argument, but it still wasn’t until 2021 that the NCAA formally decided to open the doors to NIL partnerships. In the wake of that decision and a number of court cases calling “amateurism” into question, the NCAA has changed.

It’s hard to say what the watershed moment has been, but the floodgates of deregulation are now open. As a result, Emmert is resigning his post. It could very well be the NCAA’s most recent change of policy that nudged him out.

A place in NCAA athletics for sportsbooks

The NCAA met Wednesday, April 27th, to reconsider its policy prohibiting player data sales to sports gambling companies. In this meeting, the Division I Interpretations Committee decided that only data made available to the public could be made available to sports wagering companies.

This data includes historical statistics and in-game microdata. Additionally, it has some non-game-related data, such as student health profiles. As we’ve reported, one of the new products this data will offer bettors is a stable betting line for in-game “microbets.”

Texas is not really in a position to benefit from this data presently. However, the Big 12 conference, heavily represented by Texas teams (UT, Texas Tech, TCU, Baylor, and Houston), certainly will.

Such a partnership can only push the Texas legislature closer to bringing sports betting to the voters.

The MAC raises the question of sports wagering

The impetus for this policy shift can be tied to a rules inquiry made earlier this year by the Mid-American Conference, one of two conferences to announce a player data partnership in the last few months.

The MAC, partnering with London-based Genius Sports, had made a provisional deal requiring sports betting agencies to pay the MAC directly for all data they acquire through Genius Sports.

The reason for the MAC’s rules inquiry was to see if the NCAA would reconsider a key part of its Division I Manual (Section 10.3).

The section states that athletes, university administrators, and conference staffers cannot “provide information to individuals involved in or associated with any type of sports wagering activities.”

Clearly, for the MAC to get in on the oceans of money flowing around sports betting, the NCAA would need to change this policy. And so that’s what the NCAA did.

Profiting off of data partnerships

As more states make a move to legalize online and casino gaming, the MAC stands to profit significantly by selling its data to sports wagering companies. How much of a profit is unknown, but it’s sure to pale in comparison to what the SEC, ACC, BIG 10, and BIG 12 will make when they eventually sign data deals of their own.

The Pac-12, one of the Power Five conferences, is the only other conference with a data deal in place. However, their deal doesn’t presently leave room for selling player data to sportsbooks. That, however, will likely change with the NCAA’s policy shift.

For more context to the financial implications of this deal, in 2021, the National Hockey League signed a 10year contract with Swiss data firm Sportradar. The deal was priced at $250 million with a provision for a further $90 million in equity to the NHL when Sportradar goes public.

How much bigger is SEC athletics than the NHL? The 2021 SEC championship game received 15.3 million viewers, making it the highest-rated non-bowl game of the year. By comparison, the Stanley Cup Finals averaged 2.5 million viewers.

A few years ago, the MAC championship between Western Michigan and Ohio brought in 1.4 million viewers. Would it be out of line to consider a deal between the SEC and a data firm topping $1 billion? Probably not.

The floodgates have opened

Referencing a recently published report from PlayTexas, the NCAA is being forced to reconsider established positions on amateurism and NIL partnerships. Now they add the sale of data to sportsbooks.

Court cases like the monumental Murphy v. NCAA, which legalized sports gambling at the federal level, and Alston v. NCAA, which removed restrictions on education-related scholarships and implied endorsement for NIL partnerships, shook the NCAA’s foundations of amateurism.

The NCPA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) and the Department of Education filed a Human Rights complaint on behalf of Black athletes. They say Black athletes are particularly disadvantaged by the lack of compensation for their contribution to the most high-profile collegiate sports in the country.

Then there is the growing sports betting and data partnership landscape permeating collegiate sports.

A visible example is this year’s men’s college basketball Final Four. The games captivated their audiences in the Caesar’s Sportsbook Superdome in New Orleans. They stood as the first collegiate games in an arena sponsored by a sports betting company.

Things are changing quickly

The earth is shifting under the NCAA’s feet.

In the past, their response has largely been to back away from conflict. They’re following suit today, mostly conceding ground to sportsbooks and school boosters. They’re adopting a laissez-faire approach to the new money flowing into college sports through NIL deals and legalized gaming.

Emmert’s resignation in the face of these changes makes sense. The NCAA represents something different than it did at the time of OBannon v. NCAA. And the shifting continues. Whoever takes Emmert’s place will need to openly embrace these changes.

Photo by shutterstock.com
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Tyler Andrews

Tyler is the Managing Editor of play-texas.com, covering sports, sports law, and gambling for the Lone Star State. He also contributes on similar topics for PlayCA, PlayFlorida, PlayOhio, and PlayMA. Tyler’s current focus is Texas’s pathway to gaming legalization.

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Written By Tyler Andrews on May 18, 2022Last Updated on May 20, 2022
gambling history

Texas, home to some of the most restrictive gambling laws in the country, has an equally-storied history of gambling.

The names and places that define this history echo in the minds and memories of lifelong Texans. And, in some cases, reverberate beyond the borders of the Lone Star State.

In this series, we look into a few of the people, places, and moments that characterize Texas’s gambling history. We hope to create a better understanding of the state’s conflicted relationship with online casinos, gambling, and the culture it creates.

In Part I of this series, we learned how a north-Texas horse trader became one of the most powerful casino kingpins in Dallas before making his mark in Vegas.

Part II, we learned how two brothers from Sicily turned Galveston into one of the most popular sin cities in the world.

In this third part of the series, we look at the life and times of the Poker Queen of Texas.

A refined Lottie Deno lands in San Antonio

The name Lottie Deno was one of many aliases of the woman born Carlotta J. Thompkins. She arrived in San Antonio with her loyal companion at the end of the Civil War in 1865. She was 21. Her companion was a 7-foot-tall, nine-fingered specimen named Mary Poindextor. The once-enslaved woman was Deno’s childhood nanny.

Dressed in Parisian high fashion, Deno carried herself with refinement and confidence. Poindextor’s awe-inducing presence had a magnetism somewhat opposite of Deno’s. It said all uninvited advances will not be tolerated.

On that day in San Antonio, the two were headed to the University Club in search of a card game. As hard as it is to believe, they were trying to lay low.

A child of God and money

Carlotta J. Thompkins was born in Warsaw, KY in 1844 to a family of wealthy farm owners. She grew up “proper,” and as such, her parents situated one of their female enslaved women, Poindextor, in the home as her nanny. What emerged between the two was a deep loyalty founded in compassion and friendship.

When Thompkins was not at school at an Episcopalian convent, she was accompanied by Poindextor. She much preferred being with her than with the school’s sisters. She had no interest in a life of piety and servitude, and would rather be at home with Poindextor, or, even better, on the road with her father gambling and selling race horses.

Thompkin’s father fed her wayward spirit by taking her (and Poindextor) with him on the road to places like New Orleans. During these trips he made a point of teaching his daughter the skills and tricks a good card player needed.

This, in a way, complemented her education at the convent. Where she received spiritual knowledge with the Episcopalians, with him she learned how to operate in the world of men, a world of gambling halls and racetracks, money piled on felt tables and cigar smoke in the candlelight.

Detroit nightlife and a gambling fraternity

In 1861, Thompkin’s father enlisted with the Confederate army. He died in battle, and her family lost their home and fortune. Thompkin was forced to move north to Detroit with her mother, who was quite ill, and her younger sister.

At 17, Thompkin took to the Detroit nightlife. With Poindexter at her side, she worked her way into a local gambling fraternity. Her mother had hoped she would find a suitable husband in Detroit – someone wealthy, pious, and landowning – who would take care of her. Thompkin could only mask her interest in her mother’s dream for so long, and when her mother died, Thompkin lit off.

The Mississippi riverboat years

Stories about Thompkin’s and Poindextor’s time on Mississippi riverboats fold right into the fabric of American folklore. The two apparently took up with a man named Johnny Golden, who some claim was a jockey that rode Thompkin’s father’s racehorses.

During this time, Poindextor’s legendary stature grew as well. Thompkins herself recounted that Poindextor lost her finger after diving on a rattlesnake that had reared up to strike Thompkin.

Another night, after beating two Confederate soldiers at poker, Thompkin was spotted on a side deck of the riverboat by one of them. The man called her a cheat then accosted her. Poindextor allegedly picked the man up and tossed him into the river. These stories waver in their veracity, and variations exist, but they helped to build Thompkin’s legendary status before coming to San Antonio.

The angel of San Antonio

For someone like Thompkins, Texas was a great place to disappear. She still had religious family members back in Kentucky, and at the age of 21, she wanted none of that. So, she embraced the names she became.

The Angel of San Antonio was a title she picked up at the University Club. Although, Frank Thurmond, one of the owners of the Club and a man she eventually married, may have given her the nickname that stuck firmest: Lottie Deno.

The story went that after she had played all night beating every gambler in the Club, Thompkin ought to call herself Lotta Dinero. She liked the sentiment but shortened the name to the more discreet Lottie Deno.

Sometime around 1869, Deno, having separated from Poindextor by then, toured Texas towns like Jacksboro, Fort Concho (where she became “Mystic Maud”), and finally Fort Griffin, a military encampment west of Fort Worth.

This town had a storied reputation that included people like Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, and Doc Holliday, who was a friend of Thurmond and apparently had a run-in with Deno where she took him for $3 in a game of faro.

Raking in huge pots and doing so in a fashion so out of step with the rough and tumble clientele in Fort Griffin earned her another nickname, the “Poker Queen.” In Fort Griffin, Deno bought property and established The Gus, a boarding house and saloon. It was the first time she had laid down any roots.

Returning to God

Her success lasted for nearly a decade before Deno ran into legal troubles. She moved around to avoid charges and eventually left the state in 1878 to settle in Deming, NM, where she reunited with and married Thurmond. After a career that in almost every written account maintains the grace, gentility, and guile of a Poker Queen, Deno put it and Texas behind her.

She settled back into her Episcopalian roots and became a prominent member of her community. In fact, Lottie Deno disappears from the records in New Mexico. There she is Frank Thurmond’s wife, Charlotte, a woman she made peace with and lived life as for almost 60 years, until 1934, when she died at the age of 90.

Texas offered Deno the platform to represent herself as both a dignified Southern Belle and a cunning gambler. Sadly, nothing is known of the incredible Mary Poindextor after San Antonio, but her reputation certainly owes heavily to Lottie Deno’s confidence in a tough world of few women.

In the 1960s, the TV show “Gunsmoke” allegedly based the saloon keeper Miss Kitty off of Lottie Deno. Also, the 1957 film “Gunfight At the OK Corral” supposedly based the character of Laura Denbow off Deno.

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Tyler Andrews

Tyler is the Managing Editor of play-texas.com, covering sports, sports law, and gambling for the Lone Star State. He also contributes on similar topics for PlayCA, PlayFlorida, PlayOhio, and PlayMA. Tyler’s current focus is Texas’s pathway to gaming legalization.

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Written By Fairway Jay on May 19, 2022
Jordan Spieth Leading

It’s nearing tee time in Tulsa for the 104th PGA Championship. The second major of the season follows the AT&T Byron Nelson in McKinney, TX. That’s where Dallas resident Jordan Spieth finished second this past weekend after shooting a sizzling 25-under par.

Spieth is one of the key players and Texas storylines at the 2022 PGA Championship. The 13-time PGA Tour winner and 3-time major champion can complete the Grand Slam with a victory this week at Southern Hills Country Club.

Jordan Spieth, along with fellow Dallas resident (and former Texas Longhorn) Scottie Scheffler, are leading Texas sports betting stories again this week. Scheffler’s meteoric rise on Tour this year includes four wins with a green jacket in his closet after capturing The Masters last month.

Scheffler is currently ranked No. 1 in the world heading into the second major of the year, beginning at No. 12 at the start of the year. Spieth moved up a notable spot this week as well to No. 8, after starting the year at No. 14.

PGA Championship Odds

The odds on who’s leading the online sportsbook can vary for golfers in weekly PGA Tour events.

Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth are two of the leading favorites with BetMGM noting their percentage of bets, money and support to win the 2022 PGA Championship. Scheffler and Spieth have taken both the most bets to money to win the major championship at Southern Hills, which will play as a par 70 at 7,556 yards.

The percentages of bets and money (handle) changes as more wagers come in ahead of opening round.

Here are the leading favorites and contenders to win the PGA Championship, according to current odds at BetMGM.

  • +1200 – Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm
  • +1400 – Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy
  • +1800 – Jordan Spieth and Collin Morikawa
  • +2200 – Cameron Smith and Patrick Cantlay
  • +2500 – Dustin Johnson, Viktor Hovland and Xander Schauffele
  • +3500 – Hideki Matsuyama, Will Zalatoris and Shane Lowry
  • +4000 – Brooks Koepka, Sam Burns, Joaquin Niemann and Matt Fitzpatrick

Tiger Trending

Tiger Woods tees it up for his second start on Tour this season. He made the cut at the Masters, and a majority of bettors are again encouraged that Woods is ready to contend. One bettor in Nevada (foolishly) bet $20,000 on Tiger to win the PGA Championship – for a return of $1.2 million.

But another bettor at BetMGM is not as confident in Woods, placing a $13,000 bet at +115 odds that Tiger will miss the cut.

“Tiger Woods (+6600) is our biggest liability to win the PGA Championship. If Tiger were to win, it would be the biggest losing result in BetMGM history.” – Jason Scott, VP of Trading, BetMGM

Tigers odds for a top finishing position:

  • The Top 5 +1200
  • Top 10 +600
  • And Top 40 +100

More PGA Championship updates and coverage, along with Texas Sports betting news ahead.

Current legislative action suggests there are a few positive signs for the prospect of legal sports betting in Texas, despite a majority of Lone Star state residents supporting legal sports betting. Texas is missing out on revenue for the state, and some pro sports owners and former legislators have voiced their support.

That includes Jerry Jones, Mark Cuban and Beto O’Rourke supporting the initiative ahead of lawmakers.

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Fairway Jay

FairwayJay is a leading national sports and betting analyst. He reports, researches and writes on industry news and events providing insight and information you can bet on to engage and assist the avid fan. FairwayJay’s tee-to-green coverage and contributions are provided throughout the PlayUSA network. Follow on Twitter: @FairwayJay

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Written By Darren Cooper on May 17, 2022

Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie opened its 25th anniversary season with Rhythm.

In the marquee event on Opening Night at Lone Star Park last Thursday, Heavenly Rhythm, which went off as a 20-1 choice, rallied to win the Bluebonnet Stakes against a tough field of Texas-bred fillies and mares.

That’s the type of excitement Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie promises throughout its 2022 season for its Texas-style horse racing.

Sports betting in TX is illegal, but we encourage our readers to follow and vote for key state legislators who can make that change.

However, betting at the horse tracks is not only allowed in Texas, it’s encouraged.

The taxman provides

Trainers and jockeys have hailed the improved conditions and fields at Lone Star Park since the Texas Legislature approved a tax on horse feed and products that’s then funneled back into the industry.

“Texas racing has revitalized since they passed that bill,” said trainer Austin Gustafson, who won 24 races in 2021 at Lone Star. “We’re excited. Things are really looking up.”

What the increased revenue has done is draw more Texas horsemen to bring their best horses to compete for bigger purses. 

Lone Star said it will pay out $12.8 million over the 48-date meet.

Legendary trainer Steve Asmussen lives near Lone Star and has won the last two trainer titles. Asmussen is currently with Epicenter at the Kentucky Derby, hoping to win his first Derby crown. Asmussen won 71 races last year at Lone Star.

According to five-time Lone Star champion trainer and owner Karl Broberg:

“The quality has improved dramatically in a short period of time, regardless of the caliber of the race . You’re seeing old faces that had abandoned Lone Star come back as well as new faces. People are just running their better stock there, as opposed to the lesser stock that they were able to get away with for those who had split stables.”

Jockey Stewart Elliott is the defending champion rider. He is coming off a fine meet at Sam Houston where he won a meet-best 62 races.

Special days during 25th Anniversary season

To mark its 25th anniversary season, Lone Star Park has special events planned throughout the meet.

Texas fans can root for Asmussen during the Kentucky Derby simulcast on Saturday, May 7. The Preakness (May 21) and Belmont Stakes (Jun. 11) will also be simulcast.

There are Dollar Days planned for May 14 and May 16. 

Everyone loves wiener dog races. Those are May 22. Extreme racing days (camels and zebras) come Jun. 25 and Jun. 26. No one does fireworks like Texas, and Lone Star will have a fireworks extravaganza Jul. 3 and Jul. 4.

Memorial Day is the marquee day for racing, with a monster card of six stakes races to create the Lone Star Million. This day includes the $400,000 Steve Sexton Mile, the $300,000 Texas Derby and the inaugural $100,000 Speightstown Sprint for three-year-olds. This is named for the 2004 Breeders Cup sprint winner.

There is also Lone Star Showcase Day on June 19, the Summer Turf Festival on Jul. 16 followed by Stars of Texas Day the next day.

How to get to Lone Star Park

Lone Star Park’s 25th Anniversary meet runs now through Jul. 24.

Post times on Thursdays and Fridays are 6:35 p.m., and 1:35 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. 

Lone Star Park is a half-mile north of I-30 on Beltline Road at 1000 Lone Star Parkway in Grand Prairie, about 15 minutes west of Dallas.

General parking is free and available at Gates 2 and 3. Preferred parking is through Gate 4 and valet parking available at Gate 5. General admission is $5 every live racing day, but Kentucky Derby day is $10. Reserved seating runs from $5 to $40

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Darren Cooper

Darren Cooper was born and raised in Southern Louisiana, just a short pirogue ride away from New Orleans. He started his journalism career at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and has been a writer and columnist in New Jersey since 1998. He’s won 14 statewide press awards and earned his first Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 award in 2022.

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