Texas is certainly not a gambling-friendly state. Most of the traditional casino games are illegal and prohibited for both Texas residents and visitors. These include slots, poker, blackjack, roulette, sports betting, etc. There are merely a few legal gambling activities in the state, among which are the state lottery and charitable gambling activities. Read this article further to learn more about the gambling laws in Texas.
History and Gambling Legal Status in Texas
It is no secret for anybody that Texas is one of the most conservative states in the United States. Initially, gambling in the state was made illegal in 1920, when the 18th Amendment to the US constitution, known as Prohibition, went into effect. Among other things, Prohibition banned all forms of gambling activities throughout the whole country.
In 1933, Prohibition was repealed and ended by the 21st Amendment to the American constitution. Following these changes, many of the U.S. states dropped their ban on gambling. Texas, however, decided to keep the limitations and truly little has changed ever since.
Illegal casino establishments were widely popular in Texas during the Great Depression Era. Benny Binion was an infamous Texas gangster who was running illegal gambling operations in Dallas-Fort Worth, Dallas. He later relocated his operations in Las Vegas, Nevada where he opened the Binion’s Horseshoe Casino, now called Binion’s Gambling Hall & Hotel. Binion revolutionized poker by creating the World Series of Poker tournament and ended with his name in the Poker Hall of Fame (which he founded).
Legal Status of Gambling Activities in the State
Under Texas State Law, engaging in illegal gambling activities is considered a Class C misdemeanor, and offenders are subject to a fine of $100. Intentional promotion of gambling activities, on the other hand, is punished as a Class A misdemeanor with a maximum fine of up to $4000 and up to one year imprisonment.
Evidently, the state is going after the illegal establishments rather than individual offenders. This is understandable since they are trying to eradicate the root cause of the illegal gambling issue. Have a look at the table below, including the different games and their current legal status in the state:
|Gambling Activity||Legal Status|
|🎰 Casino Games||Illegal|
|🏈 Sports Betting||Illegal|
|🏆 Daily Fantasy Sports Betting||Legal|
|🐴 Horse Race Betting||Legal|
|🐩 Greyhound Race Betting||Legal|
|💯 Charitable Gambling||Legal|
|💻 Online Gambling||Legal|
Casino games are off-limits in Texas. Social gambling is permitted. Sports betting is illegal except for daily fantasy sports betting and pari-mutuel horse and greyhound race betting. The Texas State Lottery was made legal in 1992. Charitable gambling activities such as bingo, pull-tabs, and raffles are legal. Online gambling is legal in offshore casino sites only. There are no commercial, land-based casinos in Texas apart from two operating Native American casinos – Kickapoo Lucky Eagle in Eagle Pass, Texas and Naskila Gaming in Livingston, Texas.
Texas State Lottery
As previously mentioned, the Texas State Lottery was legalized in 1992 under chapter 466 of the Government Code – The State Lottery Act. The Texas Lottery is operated by the Texas Lottery Commission. Only authorized and licensed retailers could sell lottery tickets. Players should be 18 years of age and older to participate in the games. The legal age for the rest of the gambling activities in Texas is 21. Currently, the Texas State Lottery includes the following games:
- Mega Millions®
- Lotto Texas®
- Texas Two Step®
- All or Nothing™
- Pick 3™
- Daily 4™
- Cash Five™
- Scratch Tickets
The Texas Lottery is donating a significant amount of its yearly profit in support of Texas veterans and Texas education programs. According to its website, since 1992, the lottery has generated more than $33 billion in revenue for these and other noble causes.
Horse and Greyhound Race Betting in Texas
According to Texas laws on gambling, offline horse race betting and greyhound race betting are legal in the state. Pari-mutuel betting was first legalized in Texas in 1933 to raise money during the Great Depression. It was later banned in 1937, only to be legalized again in 1987. Simulcast wagering at tracks was legalized in 1991. These activities are overseen by the Texas Racing Commission.
All bettors must place their bets in person at a licensed track. Some of the most popular horse racing tracks in Texas include the Lone Star Park, Sam Houston Park, and Retama Park. The greyhound tracks are the Gulf Coast Racing and Valley Race Park. The famous Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque, Texas, closed in June 2020 after 29 years of operation.
Daily Fantasy Sports Betting in Texas
Daily fantasy sports betting gained popularity in Texas in 2014. Since then, there have been some rather contradicting opinions about its legal status. On the one hand, some argue that this is partially a game of chance which makes it illegal according to Texas laws on gambling. On the other hand, however, the truth of the matter is that daily fantasy sports betting is not particularly mentioned in any Texas State or Federal Law, which means it is legal.
…odds are favorable that a court would conclude that participation in paid daily fantasy sports leagues constitutes illegal gambling… Ken Paxton, Texas State Attorney General
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is one of the opposers of DFS betting. In 2016, he issued an opinion that Daily Fantasy Sports betting is illegal. At that point, Daily Fantasy Sports betting operators such as FanDuel discontinued offering their service in Texas. DraftKings remained open for Texas players and sued the Attorney General for twisting the law. The case is still pending. However, nowadays, both FanDuel and DraftKings accept players from the Lone Star State.
Charitable Gambling Activities in the State of Texas
Charitable raffles, bingo, and pull-tabs are legal in Texas and regulated by the Texas Lottery Commission. Charitable bingo and pull-tabs were legalized under the Occupations Code, chapter 2001, the Bingo Enabling Act. According to this act, only specific non-profit organizations qualify for operating a bingo hall in the state. The Texas charity Bingo games include the following two categories:
- Bingo games – Reno Blackout, Large Picture Frame, Crazy Kite, Double Bingo No Corners, Double Bingo Corners Counted, Coverall, Corner Bracket Any Corner, 4 Postage Stamps Corners Only, and Block of Nine
- Pull-tabs games – Lightning Betty Boop, Cashcars, Pirate’s Booty, and Lightning Elvis
Charitable raffles in Texas were legalized under the Charitable Raffle Enabling Act, chapter 2002, from the Occupations Code. According to this act, each qualified organization may hold two raffles per calendar year. There are no cash prizes offered, and any profit from charitable raffles must be donated for charitable purposes.
Land-Based Casinos in Texas
According to Texas gambling laws, commercial casinos on the territory of Texas are illegal. As of the time of writing this article, there are only two land-based Native American casinos, which are regulated under the U.S. Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. These are the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle, owned by the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe and the Naskila Gaming, owned by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe.
Both casinos offer class II gaming activities including bingo and video games. The video game machines may look and feel like slots, but they are bingo-type slot machines or eight-liners that offer small cash prizes of a maximum of $5 or no real money prizes at all.
Kickapoo Lucky Eagle The Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel is located in Eagle Pass, Texas. It offers slots, poker, and bingo games. With over 3300 slots in its portfolio, Kickapoo Lucky Eagle is the biggest commercial casino in Texas.
Naskila Gaming Naskila Gaming Casino is located in Livingston, Texas. It offers over 800 bingo-type slot games, including some of the most popular titles, such as Colossal Wizards, Queen of the Wild II, and more.
Carnival Valor Carnival Valor is the biggest of the two available casino cruises in Texas. Once the luxury cruise ship reaches international waters, the casino is opened for play by cruisers. It includes a variety of slot games, live table games, poker, and casino tournaments.
Liberty of the Seas Liberty of the Seas Cruise Casino is leaving from Galveston, Texas. It is a luxurious cruise offering casino games in international waters. The gambling activities include live table games, slot machines, poker rooms, casino tournaments, and more.
There are also two available casino cruises in the state. These are the Carnival Valor and Liberty of the Seas. How riverboat casinos work is they travel into international waters where gambling activities are legal. Up until that point, the casinos onboard remain closed. Once the ship reaches international waters, they open for all gambling enthusiasts to try their luck with real money traditional casino games, including slot machines, live table games, casino tournaments, and more.
All You Need to Know About Texas Online Gambling Laws
According to Texas laws on gambling, registering and operating an online gambling site is illegal. However, online gambling at offshore casino sites and sweepstakes casinos is not exclusively forbidden in the state. This means that online gambling is legal, and there are no Texas internet gambling laws under which internet gamblers could be prosecuted.
The available sweepstakes casinos for Texas players are Global Poker for online poker, Chumba and LuckyLand for casino games, such as slots, scratch cards, table games, etc. Texas’s main social sports site is FendOff. All of them are not real money casino sites. You can play for fun using Gold Coins which have no monetary value whatsoever, or Sweeps Coins which in some cases could be exchanged for cash prizes such as gift cards. No deposits are required to be paid before being able to play at a sweepstakes casino.
Before registering at an online gambling site, make sure to check and confirm that the operator is fully licensed and regulated, and 100% legitimate for Texas players. It is important to ensure that your personal data is properly secured and you can play without any worries.
Texas Gambling Laws Conclusion
To this date, Texas remains the state with the most rigorous gambling laws in America. The conservative state has banned most of the traditional gambling activities leaving quite limited options for Texas gamblers. They could play for real money at casino cruises and offshore casino (make sure to review our US online casino guide). Social gambling is permitted if no “house” is making any profit. Horse race betting, greyhound race betting, and daily fantasy sports betting are also legal.
A few attempts have been made to change Texas laws on gambling and legalize gaming at least partially. The latest attempt was made earlier this year by Rep. John Kuempel, R-Seguin, and Rep. Toni Rose, D-Dallas in the House, and Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, in the Senate. The legislation was backed by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation.
It aimed to establish a Texas Gaming Commission and enable casino licenses for four destination resorts in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. The legalization of sports betting has also been included. As of the time of writing this article, however, any attempts to change the gambling laws in Texas have not been successful. No significant changes to Texas gambling laws are expected in the future. For reference, have a look at the New York gambling laws, which are among the most liberal in the country.
Frequently Asked Questions
We hope that you found our article on gambling laws in Texas useful and will leave with newly acquired knowledge of the topic. If there are any questions left unanswered, make sure to have a look at the helpful FAQ section below. In it, you would be able to read our answers to the most commonly asked questions we found online.