Texas is home to 2 tribal casinos, steeped in controversy, offering TX players a range in poker and table games. From their poker clubs to their cruise ship casinos and eight liner machines, Texas puts an interesting spin on all the legalities of gambling.
Texas Legal Gambling History
Needless to say, in the days of the old Wild West, early settlers were avid gamblers and consumers of vice. However, gambling came to a sudden halt as soon as the state constitution was enacted, which banned all forms of gambling in the state.
Things in TX remained unshaken until 1933, when pari-mutuel horse race betting was made legal. It saw a short 4-year lifespan before it was axed by the state. Things remained calm on the western frontier until 1989, when the ban on horse race betting was once again lifted. The next step for TX legal gambling came in 1992, when voters decided to bring in a state lottery.
After the Indian Gaming Act was established in the 1980’s, select tribes in Texas began to offer bingo and variants of card games. This led to other forms of casino gaming being offered at tribal casinos, amidst much controversy. As it stands today, 2 out of the original 3 Texas casinos remain, with only 1 casino being legally recognized.
Whether or not other forms of gambling such as online betting and sportsbook offerings will become legal for TX in the future is unclear.
Texas Gambling Legal Status
Texas is home to two tribal casinos. Admittingly, this isn’t a whole lot when compared to the size of the state. This is due to strict regulation and the state’s viewpoint that 1 of these casinos is operating illegally.
The two Texas land-based tribal casinos are:
- Kickapoo Eagle Casino
- Naskila Gaming.
Naskila Casino is the institution under fire from the Texas government – who, depending on who is in office, seems bent on its closure. But despite whether or not it is operating legally, it is not illegal for residents of Texas to place bets. Players are protected regardless of the casino’s status.
Not technically “land-based”, Texas does recognize one other physical casino in the form of a cruise. The casino cruise Jacks or Better operates out of Gavelston, Texas and must be at least 3 miles out into international waters for the gaming to begin.
Because most of the Texas casino action seems to take place within the confines of courtroom walls, it’s easy to forget that TX is home to more than 50 poker rooms. And since it is perfectly legal for Texans to “place bets”, they have the option to extend their poker play to off-shore sites as well.
Charitable gaming is legal in Texas, with plenty of bingo halls located all across the state. While tightly restricted, pari-mutuel betting is allowed at select Texas racetracks. Greyhound and horse betting are legal, but off-track betting remains illegal. The state has a lottery system. Online casino gaming, sports betting, and daily fantasy sports are all illegal in TX.
Texas has a unique gambling tradition in the form of eight liner machines. An eight liner is similar to a slot machine and can be found spread across the state in venues such as gas stations and food stores. Unlike an actual slot, an eight liner does not pay out cash. Rather, the prizes tend to be items from the venue that it’s placed in and can not exceed more than $5 in value.
To participate in the Texas state lottery, race betting, or charitable gaming, players must be at least 18 years of age.
For all other forms of legal gambling, including casino gambling, players must be at least 21.
Texas Legal Daily Fantasy Sports and Sports Betting
Neither daily fantasy sports or sports betting is legal inside the state of Texas.
The battle to pass sports betting legislation in Texas has been a long-fought one. For a while, it appeared that no victory was in sight. In the last couple of years, there seems to be some headway made in terms of support. While this is good, legalization is not projected to be passed anytime in the near future. Though, anything is possible in the Lone Star State.
Texas Legal Gambling FAQ’s
What forms of gambling are legal in the state of Texas?
The following forms of gambling are legal within the state of TX:
- Land-based and cruise ship casino gambling.
- Poker rooms.
- State lottery.
- Eight liners.
- Charitable gaming such as bingo and raffles.
- Horse and greyhound betting.
Players must be at least 18 to bet on races, play the state lottery, or to participate in charitable games.
Casino gambling and poker are restricted to those who are 21 and up.
Will online gambling ever make its way into Texas?
It isn’t forecasted to. Since Texas state law allows for players to “place bets”, Texans are more than welcome to off-shore casino sites without fear of prosecution.