The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the federal government could not outright prohibit betting on sporting events in the United States.

The ruling was seen as a victory that could lead to a surge in legalized gambling across the United States. Already, states like New Jersey have started to draft legislation that would allow casinos and racetracks to start taking sports bets — but don’t expect Texas and Galveston to get in on that game.

For sports gambling to be legalized on the island, it would need to be legalized by the state legislature, which has historically been adverse to passing any sort of legalized gambling bill.

Galveston’s history of illegal casinos always leads to some chatter about a possible casino in the island’s futures, legalizing gambling is not part of the city’s legislative agenda, Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough said.

“I never even thought about it as something Texas would do or that Galveston would want,” Yarbrough said.

He called gambling an “industry of last resort” that people seem to turn to when the island is facing financial difficulties — which isn’t how things are today, he added.

There is one way that Galveston may benefit from legalization, if through secondary means.

Tilman Fertitta, the island-born billionaire owner of Landry’s Inc. and the Golden Nugget Casino chain, told the Houston Business Journal that legalized gambling would help his existing casinos in New Jersey and Mississippi, and with online gambling businesses.

Any legalized sports gambling in Texas is “far out in the future,” Fertitta told the Journal.


U.S. Sen. John Cornyn on Wednesday told reporters in a conference call he would introduce another bill in Congress that, if passed, would speed the construction of a coastal storm barrier near Galveston.

The Coastal Protection Act would direct the corps to expedite the completion of an Army Corps of Engineers study of potential hurricane protection projects along the Gulf Coast.

It’s the second time Cornyn’s introduced a bill to help move along the Ike Dike. A portion of the 2016 Water Resources Development Act directed the Corps to use local studies about the Ike Dike when possible to help advance the project.

The new bill would also give the coastal barrier an exception from the Coastal Barrier Resources Act, a federal law that prevents developments on some barrier islands, including a large portion of Bolivar Peninsula from receiving federal funds.

Without this exception, the Coastal Texas Study could face significant delays, a Cornyn aide said.


Representatives from Texas A&M University at Galveston were in Washington D.C. this week to meet with administrators from the United State Maritime Administration. New A&M chief operating officer Col. Mike Fossum tweeted about the meeting.

The maritime administration oversees the U.S. Merchant Marine fleet, while Texas A&M University at Galveston is home to one of just six maritime academies in the United States.

U.S. Rep. Randy Weber helped facilitate the meeting.

Sources said Wednesday that the discussions were productive, and involved a pitch to get a new, larger training ship for Sea Aggies to train on.

“A new training ship for TAMU Galveston has long been a priority of mine,” Weber said. “The Maritime Academy needs a ship that adequately fits the needs of our cadets. Unfortunately, the current vessel simply does not. We are working closely with the U.S. Maritime Administration to get our Ags a proper vessel.”


John Cornyn and Ted Cruz were among a group of U.S. Senators to call for the return of an 8-year-old Houston boy who was taken by his mother to Brazil in 2013. The group asked the U.S. Justice and State department to make the return of Nico Brann a “top priority.” ... Congress plans to vote on the 2018 Farm Bill on Friday. It’s an $867 billion spending bill that will decide the fate of farm subsidies and food stamp programs for the next five years at least. ... Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez outraised her opponent Andrew White between Feb. 25 and May 12. Valdez raised $208,000; White raised $179,000. .... Just so we’re clear: Primary runoff election day is May 22, local election runoff day is June 16. Then there are no more elections until November.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


Senior Reporter

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