Texas is an interesting place to talk about with regard to gambling because it is a state that features a clash of liberal and conservative ideals. To make a long story short, it is the extremely conservative nature of the state that has won over things when it comes to gambling. There are very few casino options and that is something that does not look to be changing anytime soon. While this is the case, neighboring states boast casinos that are a constant draw for Texans.
With time, and as more potential tax revenue streams over the border, there is hope that Texas will become friendlier to casinos. With that being said, recent attempts to introduce pro-casino legislation have not gone over very well. Either the measures have been shot down entirely, or state lawmakers simply feel as though they have more important things to focus on.
Online gambling in Texas
Participating in unlicensed games of chance for money is a misdemeanor in Texas, but this rule does not apply to home games. The status of online gambling is next to impossible to determine at the moment, as internet games aren’t mentioned anywhere in the regulations and the authorities haven’t ever tried charging offshore sites’ customers with unlawful gambling.
Since none of the Texas-based online gamblers have been convicted so far and the potential punishment isn’t really severe, most people simply assume that playing on offshore sites is perfectly legal and simply play their favorite games without worrying about this ambiguous legal situation.
There are dozens of iGaming sites available to Texas citizens and their quality ranges from amazing to absolutely abhorrent. If you’re an inexperienced gambler, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of “well, how do I get straight to the good part?” In the case of poker rooms, the answer is very simple: by going exclusively for high traffic sites, as they allow you to enjoy around-the-clock cash games and better tournaments with bigger prize pools.
When it comes to casinos things get a little bit more complicated, as you’ll have to strike a balance between bonuses and game selection. If you aren’t interested in playing any games and you’d like to try some sports betting instead, the best course of action would be to compare several reputable sites in terms of prices and betting opportunities. Quite obviously, you could always skip all of that and go for one of our recommended sites instead.
Kickapoo Lucky Eagle
Gambling in Texas
Texas may not be a gambling hotspot, but there’s simply no denying the fact that local land-based gambling enthusiasts simply don’t have too many reasons to complain. Casino-style games are available at the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle while pari-mutuel betting is allowed at the local racetracks such as the Lone Star Park or Sam Houston Park.
Charitable gambling events and the state-controlled lottery are also an option if you care about purely recreational gambling. Despite having a rather solid land-based gambling industry, Texas doesn’t have a regulated iGaming market, so local gambling enthusiasts simply play on offshore sites.
Not only does the Texas state government show no signs of making casinos legal, it actively works to shut down gambling operations that fit into the gray area between federal and state law. Despite the political environment, and the recent closing of a casino cruise in Galveston and a tribal casino in El Paso, two tribal casinos remain in operation.
Casinos in Texas
At the present moment, the only site that can be at all interpreted as a casino is known as Kickapoo Lucky Eagle, located in Eagle Pass, Texas. As you might expect, the casino is on Native American land and only exists thanks to a Federal Act that was passed back in the late 1980s. Unfortunately, the only casino games available to be played at this site are slot games and poker. Classic casino games such as blackjack, roulette, craps, and baccarat are all illegal in Texas.
Lucky Eagle Casino is located in Eagle Pass, two-and-a-half hours southwest of San Antonio, next to the Texas-Mexico border. The Kickapoo-run casino features 3,300 electronic gaming machines, bingo, and poker. There is also a hotel attached to the casino and six restaurants.
Naskila Gaming is located just outside of Livingston, a 90-minute drive from Houston. The casino features 800 electronic gaming machines. Naskila has been in a protracted fight with the Texas government for years, having been forced to shut down a previous casino. Following a court ruling in favor of the Alabama-Coushatta tribes, this current casino opened in 2016.
Slot machines in Texas are Class II bingo-style electronic gaming machines, so while they look and act like traditional slot machines, they are actually bingo machines that pit players against one another.
You must be 21 years old to visit either of the tribal casinos in Texas.
Texas Sportsbooks & Sports Betting
Sports betting in Texas is illegal, and despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling allowing states to adopt laws to legalize sports gambling, Texas is unlikely to move in that direction anytime soon.
Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and majorities in both the Texas House and Senate have openly opposed the expansion of gambling laws in the state. Making matters more difficult, a constitutional amendment would likely be required to allow new gambling laws to pass.
Adding an interesting wrinkle to the issue is that the Dallas Cowboys, far and away the most popular sports team in the state of Texas, recently became the first National Football League (NFL) franchise to sign a partnership agreement with a casino. The WinStar World Casino and Resort just across the Red River in Oklahoma is now the official casino of the Dallas Cowboys.
Fantasy Sports Gambling and eSports
The legality of daily fantasy sports (DFS) has been an unsettled issue in Texas for a number of years. In 2016, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote:
“Under section 47.02 of the Penal Code, a person commits an offense if he or she makes a bet on the partial or final result of a game or contest or on the performance of a participant in a game or contest.”
That, however, was only an opinion. FanDuel left the state anyway, while DraftKings decided to stay and fight. FanDuel is now back in Texas two years later, offering paid games to customers within the state. They’ve joined DraftKings in a lawsuit against the state that requests a final and clear ruling on their legal status.
While there is no law specifically relating the legality of daily fantasy sports, all major DFS websites are currently operating in Texas.
There are also no laws specifically addressing eSports, but it’s worth noting the city of Arlington, Texas is spending $10 million on a new eSports center and arena.
There are five horse racetracks currently hosting live racing in Texas:
Sam Houston Race Park in Houston: Thoroughbred racing from January to March, and Quarter Horse racing from March through May
Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie: Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing from April through November
Retama Park in Selma: Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing from July through September
Gillespie County Race Track in Fredericksburg: Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing in July and August
Las Palmas Race Park in Mission: Quarter Horse racing every Sunday
With the exception of Las Palmas Race Park, all of these venues also offer simulcast parimutuel wagering year-round.
Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque and Valley Race Park in Harlingen offer live dog racing and simulcast racing for both horses and dogs.
Texas Poker Games
Along with the poker room at the Lucky Eagle Casino, private poker rooms are popping up around the state. So far, they haven’t faced any legal challenges. As long as they don’t take a rake, and instead get their revenue from membership fees and time-based seat fees, they seem to exist just outside of the state gambling laws that would prevent such rooms.
There are now more than 30 private poker rooms in Texas, with most of the rooms opening up around Houston, Austin, and San Antonio.
The Texas lottery has been around since 1992 and sells more than $5 billion dollars worth of tickets annually, netting the state around $1.3 billion in revenue. Along with scratch-off tickets, the lottery offers the following draw games:
- Lotto Texas
- Texas Two Step
- All or Nothing
- Cash Five
- Pick 3
- Daily 4
- Texas Triple Chance
- Mega Millions (multistate)
- Powerball (multistate)
For winnings over $5,000, federal taxes will be withheld at a rate of 24%. You must be 18 years of age or older to play, and prizes must be claimed within 180 days.
With a license from the Charitable Bingo Operations Division of the Texas Lottery Commission, religious, nonprofit, fraternal, and veterans organizations can conduct bingo games. Volunteer fire departments and volunteer emergency medical service providers can also get a license to host bingo. All net proceeds, minus 25% for operating expenses, must go back to the charity.
Only three bingo games per week are allowed per license, and the maximum aggregate amount awarded during a single bingo session may not exceed $2,500.
There are more than 1,200 charitable bingo games held throughout the state. You must be at least 18 years old to win cash prizes. Those under 18 can play if accompanied by a parent or guardian and if the prize is something other than cash.
Texas Casino History
Like most states in this part of the country, Texas was originally settled by folks who really loved to gamble. Whether it was at old-time casinos or at the many horse tracks across the state, gambling was by no means frowned upon during the very early days of the Texas Territory. Once the Territory officially became a state, however, things began to change. In fact, the state’s original constitution very clearly bans any and all types of gambling.
For quite some time, this all-out ban on all types of gambling persisted, then, in the early 1930s, it appeared as though things were going to begin to change. In 1933, the state moved to legalize pari-mutuel gambling at the state’s racetracks. This lasted not even 5 years before, once again, there was an all-out ban on all forms of gambling. It would be more than 50 years before horse race betting would once again be legalized. Even though Texas does allow for betting on races, they have repeatedly shot down efforts to add slot games like you will find in many other states around the US.
Even when Federal laws allowed for Native American tribes to attempt to open their own casino operations, Texas lawmakers fought and won a battle that stopped this. The battle actually shut down a number of high-stakes bingo halls and even put an end to construction projects that would have culminated in the building of massive resort casinos. When riverboat casinos, and any other casinos that existed on water, came to light, the state was quick to end that dream too. Citing some old laws, Texas was able to destroy the notion that riverboat casinos could exist.
Nowadays, Texas is a barren wasteland as far as casino gaming is concerned. This is not a very good thing either, as casinos located in neighboring states have profited to the tune of millions of dollars from Texans who cross over the border to gamble elsewhere.
Texas Online Gambling FAQ
How Do I Get Started?
If you already know which site you want to join, you should start by opening a new gambling account and transferring some money to your cashier in order to fund it. Once that’s out of the way, your account will have to go a simple verification process, which is required to prevent underage gambling and bonus abuse.
How Do I Get My Money if I Win?
Payout requests can be placed at your convenience and usually take less than 48 hours to process. Most sites handle transactions of this kind using wire transfers, which means that your winnings are likely to arrive within about two weeks from placing the request.
What is the minimum age to gamble online in Texas?
Offshore sites’ customers are required to be at least 18 years old. Keep in mind that the fact that the official legal land-based casino gambling age in Texas is 21 is irrelevant here.
How do I open an account?
Opening an account boils down to filling out an on-site registration form. The next step is to verify your identity by submitting a scanned photo ID, which will allow you to make a deposit and gamble using real money.
Where can I open my account from?
Most Texas-friendly sites accept customers from all over the United States, which means that you don’t have to be physically present in Texas during the registration.
From where can I access Texas online gambling sites?
Texas-friendly sites can be accessed from any US state, but you should keep in mind that states like Washington or Utah have very strict anti-iGaming regulations.
Where can I familiarize myself with the official regulations over gambling in Texas?
The official regulations are listed in Section 47 of Texas Code.
How do I deposit to my online gambling account?
The most popular method is to make a payment using a credit card such as Visa or MasterCard.
How do I withdraw my winnings?
All Texas-friendly sites support wire transfers. In addition, many sites allow you to request a check by courier instead.
Is my money safe?
All the sites listed here are 100% safe to play on. Keep in mind that not every site you come upon is going to be trustworthy, so you should always research the sites you have no information on before you decide to make a deposit. This should protect you from most scammers.
What body regulates gambling in Texas?
Gambling in Texas is regulated by Texas Lottery Commission and Texas Racing Commission.