09/24/2013 11:45AM

Judge dismisses Churchill lawsuit challenging Texas ban on online gambling


A federal court in Texas has rejected an argument by Churchill Downs Inc. that the state legislature’s ban on online gambling by Texas residents is a violation of the federal commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The decision scuttles an attempt by Churchill to continue to take bets from Texas residents through its market-leading account-wagering operation, twinspires.com. Churchill filed a lawsuit last September challenging the ban on online wagering, asserting that the ban violated the commerce clause because it treated bets at “bricks-and-mortar” sites differently than those placed through Internet account-wagering operations.

Judge James R. Nowlin of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas summarily rejected those arguments in an opinion issued Monday that dismissed Churchill’s suit with prejudice.

“Their argument fails because it incorrectly treats brick-and-mortar gambling as identical to Internet gambling,” Nowlin wrote. “In fact, they are two wholly different activities.”

Officials for Churchill did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Churchill’s suit was the first to be filed by an account-wagering operator seeking to overturn state bans on Internet wagering. It also was highly unusual in that it acknowledged that Texas law had long banned Internet wagering, but that the state only began enforcing the ban in 2011, an assertion disputed by members of the state racing commission and attorney general’s office.

Nowlin wrote that states have the right to enforce different restrictions on betting depending on the means by which the bets are placed.

“There may come a day when more sophisticated means for policing the Internet come into being, but until that day comes, this court will not interfere with the state legislature’s decision to treat online betting differently than gambling that takes place at brick-and-mortar establishments,” Nowlin wrote.

tummy More than 1 year ago
search on google , Texas horse racing online & you see right away website to play ( Texas cannot stop horse racing fan) .
tummy More than 1 year ago
search on google Texas horse racing online, you will see right away website to play ( Texas cannot stop horse racing fan)
Bryan Black More than 1 year ago
I am frustrated with my home state. I tried to contact my state representative about this and the only return i got was attempts to get campaign contributions. It is really sad. The track is too far to drive to, but i can get all the lottery tickets a fool could want. Shame on you Texas.
tom More than 1 year ago
im handicapped.so I cant get to the track to bet.texas politics,,took away all my fun,,i use to bet from my computer,now I have nothing..
TINA More than 1 year ago
if no horse racing online in texas , also close the horse & dog racing in texas too . TEXAS same COMMUNISTS.
swede More than 1 year ago
Texas can not, and should not legislate morality. Gambling is not the issue as much as they want to control our lives. How I spend my money, is my business...as long as I pay my taxes and don't break the law. I may have to vote for a DEM to get online wagering back in the Lone Star state. We don't want Obama to tell us what doctor we can see, yet the REP are telling us if we want to wager...'go to the track'. For some of us...that isn't possible. Texas better move into the 21st Century!
jaime More than 1 year ago
Texas sucks!
Ronnie Bryant More than 1 year ago
will texas tracks still accept online wagers from other states on texas tracks
Scott Williamson More than 1 year ago
Spare us the left wing-extremism Rahman. You can't just make ridiculous assertions and expect people to believe that garbage. Do you work for one of the network "news" propaganda machines? I disagree with Tx on wagering issues ... but everything else we've got right. Texas will eventually come around, until then feel free to move to Chicago. You can bet online there ... if the war zone in the streets doesn't get to you first.
Rick More than 1 year ago
We regret to inform you that, as a result of an adverse court ruling in Texas, TwinSpires.com is suspending wagering activity from Texas residents effective immediately.