Texas Rangers

Could the Texas Rangers new ballpark someday be a place for betting on baseball?

Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Field now 62% complete

The Texas Rangers' new ballpark, Globe Life Field, is now 62 percent complete and on pace to be ready for the 2020 season, club officials said. The Rangers also announced they had inked a multiyear sponsorship deal with Choctaw Casinos & Resorts.
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The Texas Rangers' new ballpark, Globe Life Field, is now 62 percent complete and on pace to be ready for the 2020 season, club officials said. The Rangers also announced they had inked a multiyear sponsorship deal with Choctaw Casinos & Resorts.

Imagine you’re at a Texas Rangers baseball game on a typical mid-summer weeknight and, during some down time in an early inning, an app on your phone opens and offers you 5-to-1 odds that Joey Gallo will hit a home run in his next at bat.

Would you put a couple of dollars on that bet?

For many fans, the whole concept of in-game gambling may seem farfetched.

But the Rangers announced Thursday that they had expanded their sponsorship agreement with Choctaw Casino & Resorts into a multi-year deal. Terms weren’t disclosed, but the Oklahoma-based tribe is now the “official and exclusive casino and resort of the Texas Rangers,” according to their announcement.

And the U.S. Supreme Court just over a year ago struck down a 1992 federal law that had effectively banned states other than Nevada from legalizing sports gambling. At least 14 states, including several neighboring Texas (Arkansas and New Mexico among them), have either legalized sports betting in some form or are in the process of doing so, according to the online industry publication Legal Sports Report..

And for its part, the Choctaw Nation is interested in bringing baseball proposition bets to Texas Rangers fans, either at the tribe’s Durant, Oklahoma, casino, or maybe someday to Globe Life Field, an official said.

“I definitely think that’s a possibility,” Janie Dillard, Choctaw senior executive director of commerce, said when asked in an interview if the tribe would consider offering in-game proposition bets.

“I think there’s an opportunity,” Dillard told the Star-Telegram. “I am really hoping, with our sponsorship we’re doing here, we’ll be on the ground level of that. We maybe could even help push that. We could maybe be instrumental in getting that in Texas, and we could be a big part of it.”

Dillard and other guests toured Globe Life Field for a construction update. The ballpark is 62% complete, and workers are preparing to pour concrete for the home dugout. Also, the retractable roof is taking shape, with installation of the east roof truss being completed Wednesday, giving the ballpark a more distinctive exterior profile for passers-by on Stadium Drive.

Choctaw Casinos & Resorts, which draws much of its customer base from the Dallas-Fort Worth region, also is in the midst of an expansion with the $500 million construction of a 19-story tower that will feature 1,000 hotel rooms, expanded gaming, a lazy river and retail space. The work is expected to be complete in 2021.

The Rangers offered a more measured response when asked about the possibility of in-game betting. Rob Matwick, Rangers executive vice president for business operations, said the club doesn’t want to create the impression that it’s lobbying for sports betting.

First, he said, state elected leaders would have to decide if they want to legalize sports betting and, if so, what kind of licensing and regulatory procedures to put in place.

“We’re a long way from the Texas Legislature getting to that point,” Matwick said.

But Matwick did acknowledge that club officials have discussed the subject privately. Mainly, he said, if sports betting is ever legal in Texas, the club wants to be ready to respond in an appropriate way. And, he agreed that having Choctaw Nation as a marketing partner provides the Rangers with gambling expertise they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Even so, there are many other variables.

It’s not yet clear if Arlington city officials or Tarrant County leaders would even want gambling within their boundaries. And what about other sponsors, including Globe Life Insurance, which is paying $11 million annually for 25 years as the naming rights sponsor of the Rangers’ home? Would it need to be consulted before gaming windows opened on site?

And then there’s baseball itself. Gambling figured prominently in some of the sport’s darkest moments, including the 1919 Black Sox Scandal in which eight Chicago White Sox players were accused of throwing the World Series, as well as Pete Rose’s well-documented lifetime ban.

Those questions aside, in terms of economics it’s not hard to imagine in-game proposition bets succeeding in baseball, a game that some critics say is too slow for modern sports fans and could use a spark.

Let’s say it’s the bottom of the ninth, and pitcher Jose Leclerc is coming in to close the game. Your phone app offers 20-to-1 odds that he will strike out all three batters.

Would you bet on it?

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Gordon Dickson joined the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1997. He is passionate about hard news reporting, and his beats include transportation, growth, urban planning, aviation, real estate, jobs, business trends. He is originally from El Paso, and loves food, soccer and long drives.