Dez Bryant says he bet $10,000 on the Dallas Cowboys to win Sunday’s game against the Bengals and won $37,000. If true, was Dez Bryant’s wager on the Cowboys legal?
The longtime Cowboys wideout boasted of his unlikely win after the game, first on social media and then when talking to Mike Fisher of CowboysCountry. Bryant didn’t disclose where and when he placed the bet, but if he placed it in Texas, it was likely made illegally.
Bryant saw a winner despite Week 1 results
The Cowboys entered the game as a 7-point home underdog. Most fans didn’t expect much out of the team in Week 2 after Dak Prescott’s injury and the team’s overall inability to move the ball in Week 1.
Bryant, however, told Fisher that he saw through the poor performance last week to the potential Week 2 rebound.
“Cooper Rush has been here. I never had a doubt in him, I had the opportunity to play with him. I know what type of quarterback he is. He knows the system. The guys know him.”
Bryant also pointed to Cowboys star linebacker Micah Parsons, who wreaked havoc on the Bengals all game.
“Micah Parsons, I already knew that if the Bengals dropped back in shotgun, that was going to be a problem. ‘Cuz you’re going to need two guys to double him. One guy’s just not going to do it. They couldn’t solve him.”
Fisher then commented on Bryant’s bet, which he announced on Twitter, joking that Bryant “put his money where his mouth is.”
“Damn right,” Bryant said. “Like I always do.”
— fishsports (@fishsports) September 19, 2022
Bryant had several options to place a bet
Bryant could have placed the bet at the game on a mobile sports betting site, and that site would have been illegal. Texas law forbids gambling of any kind (though it does not specifically name online sports betting), and it does not allow for any type of sportsbook – retail or online – to operate in the state.
Bryant also could’ve used a bookie in a state with legalized sports betting to place his bet. In this scenario, the bookie would have been operating illegally as well because the bet would’ve come from a state where sports betting isn’t licensed or regulated.
Does a high-profile athlete like Bryant stand to be prosecuted for announcing a possibly illegal bet? Almost certainly not. While the sportsbooks and bookies themselves operate illegally in the state, placing bets is not specifically outlawed in the Texas Constitution.
This gray area lures 2 million Texans a year into placing illegal bets.
Bryant could have placed a legal bet in any of the 31 states where sports betting is currently authorized. Louisiana would have been the easiest option. Texans currently flood to neighboring states every day to place bets. From Dallas, Shreveport is a 2-hour drive.
And no, Dez could not have legally asked a friend to serve as a proxy to make an online bet in a legal state. Proxy betting is illegal, though enforcement falls on operators, something DraftKings did not follow through on when taking a punishment earlier this year when a Florida bettor was allowed to bet in New Jersey, drawing a $150,000 fine.
Bryant could have also wired a friend in Las Vegas money and asked him to place the bet for him. With Bryant’s resources, this option makes some sense, assuming he’s got people he trusts with $10,000 in a state with legal sports betting.
Looking at all the options, the illegal route clearly requires less leg work.
Will lawmakers see the light next session?
Texas legislators are currently preparing for the 2023 legislative session, where legal sports betting will receive a lot of attention. Since the end of the last session, the Sports Betting Alliance, a group of all major Texas sports teams and four mobile sportsbook operators, has maintained a presence in Austin. The group has been educating lawmakers on the importance of legal gambling in the state.
Black market gambling, which continues to grow in Texas, represents a multi-billion dollar industry that does not benefit the state in any way. It does, however, highlight that Texans have a strong interest in sports betting, which the state isn’t honoring.
In fact, pushing back so firmly against legal sports wagering pushes Texans further into the illegal offshore industry. In this space, Texans’ bets and payouts are not protected. And their mental health receives little attention through responsible gaming procedures.
Moreover, the American Gaming Association has found that many people in the offshore market (as much as 63%) do not even realize that they’re using illegal sites.
The murky, unregulated offshore market
Did Bryant make his bet legally? Did he use an illegal offshore site? We’ll never know unless he shares the information, which is unlikely.
Dez Bryant is one of millions of Texans who will bet on sports this year. Most will not have Bryant’s resources, allowing them to place bets legally. They’ll instead opt for the murky, illegal offshore options and the inherent risks of the unregulated market, which is any platform that will allow you to place a sports bet today in Texas.
Some will know those risks, some will not.