09/24/2013 11:45AM

Judge dismisses Churchill lawsuit challenging Texas ban on online gambling

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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.

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.
Kendall Daniels More than 1 year ago
Exactly JoeyB. This is just round 1. I live in TX and had a drfbets account. When TX started trying to enforce these laws in 2011, drf shut my account down completely. This morning Twinspires disabled my ability to deposit/withdraw money but my account it still active and I can still watch races online, which I will do while wagering in Antigua or Costa Rica or wherever like the old days until twinspires blocks their simulcast feed to TX tracks and TX cries uncle.
JoeyB More than 1 year ago
Texas better be careful CD can stop sending their simulcast signals to the racetracks in Texas costing the tracks big time.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Would also cost Churchill as well
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Bible Belt strikes again. You can carry a gun where ever you want, if you scared shoot a person and get away with it even if the 17 years old. Woman have to do what men tell them even with there own bodies. You need twenty pieces of id to Vote. You are not legally aloud to play a game that is named after the state. And you must go to the track if you want to bet on horses.
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.
Joan More than 1 year ago
Living in the Dark Ages of Texas, there is no OTB, you drive your behind to a track or you don't bet. Gambling restrictions have been in place in Texas before Greg Abbott was born, it's called the bible belt or as you know it today , the birth state of the tea party. Pitiful. Horesemen go out of state for better purses. I guess we just need the good legislature to protect us from that ole sin gambling.