Rick Perry wants Texas to legalize online sports betting

Rick Perry is hoping to convince the Lone Star State to legalize sports betting. 

Perry, who served as Governor of Texas from 2000-2015 and as the U.S. Secretary of Energy during the Trump Administration from 2017-2019, has joined the Sports Betting Alliance and says the time is right.

The Sports Betting Alliance says Texas has an opportunity to be a leader in regulating sports betting after the U.S. Supreme Court removed federal law prohibiting states from legalizing sports betting in 2018. The organization estimates that millions of best totaling about $8.7 billion are placed illegally through unregulated, offshore betting operators each year. 

Officials believes that legalized sports betting in Texas would result in more than $250 million a year in tax revue for the state. 

Perry spoke to FOX 7 Austin's Rudy Koski for "The Issue Is" and the transcript of the full interview is below.


Rudy Koski: So you've been the governor. You've been a secretary of energy. Now you're a spokesperson. Why is it time for Texas to legalize online sports betting?

Rick Perry: Well, I give people the education process, if you will, that this is ongoing. I'm pretty sure people have been betting since the first time two guys met horseback in a dusty street and probably centuries before that. So betting on sporting events is nothing new. 35, 36 other states already do this because the Supreme Court met and said, you know, you can't ban this. This is a state issue. So two-thirds of the states have already said, you know what, this is going to go on. Let's regulate it. Let's make sure that it's safe. Let's make sure that your information doesn't get used by some nefarious platform somewhere. That's why the time is right.

Perry: That's why we need to do it in the state of Texas. I want to say about $8.7 billion worth of bets last year in the state of Texas. I mean, sports betting is not going to go away. My point is, it's here. It's going to stay. Let's make sure that Texans are that they're safe, secure and that they know that if they do place that bet, that they'll receive their payment, if they make the right bet and that their private information is not used in some form or fashion, and that's not appropriate.

Koski: When you say sports betting, there may be a few people who don't understand what that is. So what type of gambling is this and what type of gambling is this not?

Perry: Yeah, well, let me tell you what it's not. First, it's not casino gambling. It's not a place that you would go and storefront types of thing. This is all online, what we call mobile sports betting. So, you know, I guess it's pretty ubiquitous that everyone has a device, You know, a cell phone or a laptop that they would have access to all of these platforms. Every one of the professional sports teams are supportive of this. And that's one of the reasons that I've known, you know, Mr. Crane, Jerry Jones, I've known the owners of our sports teams, the Mavericks, the Rockets, the stars through the years. And these are all folks who are supportive of this. And so it felt right for me for a number of reasons, the least of which is not. 

Perry: Texans need to know that when they place a bet and Rudy, they're going to place bets. I think if you're if your opposition here is I'm not for expansion of gambling. This is not an expansion of gambling. This is ongoing. It's going to happen. Let's just make sure that it's regulated and that Texans are safe and secure as they do that their information.

Koski: Let's build on that. So when you were in office and running for office, you courted the conservative evangelical group that's technically against gambling. So what do you say to them? And I heard what you just said, that people are already doing it, but they're still saying, gosh, this doesn't feel right. And what's Rick Perry being with these people?

Perry: Yeah. And mine's all about regulation. It's about its happening. If your issue is betting is just wrong, it's morally wrong, then you know that that is absolutely your right. I'm not for expansion of gambling. Somebody said, well, what about casino gambling? And I said, listen, this sports betting alliance is agnostic about that. They don't have a position. They're focused on the issue of mobile sports betting, period. 

Perry: I was against I didn't vote for parimutuel when I was in the state house. I was not a supporter of the lottery. Now, I was already over at the AG Department by the end of didn't have a vote on it. But the expansion of gambling I wasn't personally for. I'm still not for the expansion of gambling. This is not an expansion of gambling. And I think that's the biggest education process rooted that needs to go on. This is about an activity that has gone on for decades, if not centuries. And now, because of the proliferation of these devices or iPhones, etc., it's relatively easy for someone to place a bet. Let's make sure that it's regulated and that it's safe.

Koski: I hear you saying that your motivation is regulation making it safe. But I've also heard that you're being well compensated. You want to tell me how much you're being paid?

Perry: ] I hope, I am being well compensated. The point is that that's a side issue for my, my perspective. I hope after I got out of public office, I have the right to negotiate a fair deal. And I will suggest to you I got a fair deal.

Koski: You mentioned earlier that this alliance, some big names involved, Jerry Jones, Mark Cuban. Will you join them at the State Capitol talking to lawmakers about this plan? Do you expect to be down here in Austin pushing this?

Perry: Well, I'm not I'm not a lobbyist. I'm the spokesperson. I'm their talent, so to speak. I'll be doing some educational processes with the people of the state of Texas. Right now, it's about the citizens of the state of Texas understanding this. So when they do have their conversations with their elected officials, they can express their desires.

Perry: You know, Rudy, one of the interesting things about this and another one of the reasons that I signed on, I got comfortable the way that this was being put together was. They're doing it with a constitutional amendment. And why that's so important to me is I make the argument of, you know, I got elected statewide, I think six times. And if I trust the people of the state to elect me or if you're the lieutenant governor, the governor today, the senator, or what have you. I trust you as a citizen with a constitutional amendment to answer this question. Do we regulate mobile sports betting in Texas?

Perry: I think it's totally the right way to do it. Go to the people. And what we're asking the legislators to do is listen. Vote to allow your constituents the vote. On this issue in the fall on a constitutional amendment question.  

Perry: Totally biased, I think. And at that particular point in time, it's pretty hard to argue that the people of the state of Texas are not in favor of it. Now, if they vote against it, then we got the answer on that side as well. But I think that Texans, once properly educated about the regulation, about the safety of their private information, will vote and I think pretty overwhelmingly in favor of mobile sports betting. 

Koski: The gatekeeper to this kind of resolution is most likely going to be Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, have you spoken to him about this? Have you heard any feedback from him on this?

Perry: I think the lieutenant governor, and rightfully so, your observation is he is the gatekeeper of a lot of different things and a lot of different issues. I think he'll be fair. I think he will look to his members. But I also think he really respects the concept of the voters having the say here. And when you have a constitutional amendment, that's basically what you're saying, is that we trust you enough as citizens of this state to go to the polls in November of 2023 and vote either for or against these issues that we put in front of you as far as constitutionally changing the constitution of the state. 

Koski Are you worried that this could get sidetracked by people who want casino gambling?

Perry: I think the members of the legislature are wise enough to know the difference. I think they're educated enough to understand that casino gambling is a very different animal, so to speak, then the sports betting issue. Totally different animals.

Koski: A little off topic. You were recently the grand marshal of the Christmas parade at Round Top. Which did you have more fun being the governor or the grand marshal?

Perry: Well, I think the caveat there is fun. It was fun being the grand marshal. I don't know if being governor was fun all the time. It was the best job I ever had. And with that said, the most interesting job I ever had was being the secretary of energy. And I'd give you the just a quick thumbnail of that being on the National Security Council, dealing with the nuclear weapons that belong to the United States, being one of seven who were briefed along with the president, the vice president, secretary of defense, the secretary of Treasury, the head of our national intelligence agencies, as well as Secretary of Energy, being briefed on a weekly basis about the crises that we have around the world, being in charge of all of the nuclear materials, whether they're in Europe or what have you. Being the head of the agency that has the national labs, those 17 national labs with the supercomputers, the fastest supercomputers in the world, a really, really fascinating job and one that I'm so thankful I had the privilege to be able to participate in. But being governor is still the best job in the world.

Koski: You mentioned national security and all the craziness in the world right now. Brittney Griner is coming home, but it's a trade-off for the merchant of death. Is that a good trade-off in your mind or is just you know.

Perry: I don't know all the details, Rudy. So I think for me to say, you know, weigh in on this without knowing the details of what was going on, what I'm glad she's coming home. I hope that not just her, but other people, as they travel around the world, they need to recognize that this is serious business. When you go into foreign countries and you're going to do something that know what their laws are. She made a grievous error and she paid a terrible price for it. You know, glad she's coming home. You know, I wish we could have gotten the Marine who is still being held by the Russians out as well. But again, I wasn't sitting there. I wasn't involved with the negotiations. So for me to say, right, wrong, not enough here. I'll leave that to the diplomats that were actually making the negotiations.

Koski: You mentioned the former president. You want to weigh in on his running again. Good, bad. You called him cancer one time, a long time ago. 

Perry: You know, I ran statewide as I shared earlier six times. I ran on my record, but I also made the pitch to the people. Here's why you need to reelect me to where I go back to work for you. And whether you're Donald Trump, whether you're one of the other individuals whose names are being mentioned as potential nominees for the Republican Party. Show me what you got. You know, we'd like to be wooed. We'd like to be courted, so to speak. And that's what the process is really about. So we need to go through that process. And whether it's Donald Trump or whether it's someone else, make your pitch to the American people and we'll go through the democratic process appropriately.

Koski: Hey, you're looking good. Have you thought about running again? Are you done with running for office?

Perry: I'm pretty done, my friend. I think I've {got) 40 years of public service (if I) count in my time as a pilot in the United States Air Force. I don't think anybody's going to downgrade my paper for not having done enough public service.  [00:13:03][14.4]

Koski: One last question, and I'm talking about the border. You've been fighting this border thing since gosh, I've known you. Back in 2005, you launched a border initiative. You followed up with more and more. Are you really sad that we're still talking about this crisis?

Perry: Well, I'm not sad. I'm really frustrated. I'm I'm angry, actually. And, you know, righteous indignation is okay. That's biblical. But for the president of the United States to thumb his nose at this issue, I made it matter of fact, within the last few days, he said he had more important things to do than go to the border. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat along the border. I mean, Henry's a bit outspoken about the tragedy that's occurring along the border of Texas and this president to basically thumb his nose at, you know, whether you're from New Mexico or Arizona, California or, you know, the 100 plus mile border that Texas has. I think that's you know, I think that is consequential from the standpoint of people across the country know that we've got a problem with an open border and we have a president who is basically saying, I don't care. Matter of fact, I don't care so much that I don't have time to go down there. 

Koski: You know, the red wave didn't happen in this previous election. And there's a lot of reasons why. A lot of blame, a lot of finger pointing and things like that. But going forward, as as a good Reagan Republican like you are, what's the message to your party as they try to figure out and move forward?

Perry: I think the Republican Party has to get substantially better at going out and working within the system to get their people to vote. There are plenty of votes for Republicans to have won this election cycle. They stayed at home, though. And if you can't energize, if you can't put together an infrastructure to go out and to get those people's votes into the polling places, whether it's voting by mail, whether it's all the other ways that you can bring people to the polls, get people to go vote, to energize people. And I think the Republican Party has got to really focus on that and get leadership nationally. You know, when I look at Texas, I'm you know, we still do a pretty good job, Governor Abbott and the leadership of the state. What Dan Patrick did in the rural part of the state this last election cycle, I think really made a difference. And but we in the suburban, suburban and particularly the urban areas, we got to get better at getting the conservative Republican vote out and to the polls.

Koski: And last question. I'm to come back full circle to the sports betting. You know you all are estimating a lot of money could come into the state. Should that money be earmarked as something? Would you like to see that earmarked as something? 

Perry: Well, I'm not a big believer that you earmark with legislation. Having been in the process since 1985, when I was a young House member, put the money in the general revenue fund. Then go through the process, appropriations, and members can get up, make their pitch about this money needs to be spent here. Have your appropriations and your Senate Finance Committee meetings. That makes a lot more sense to me. Number one, that's why we elected senators and House members is to go into, you know, strenuously debate and discuss how these dollars need to be spent. So I just put it in the general revenue fund, and then we all can go through the process of saying, here's our priorities. Here's where we need to spend our money.