Guide to Gambling Laws in Texas

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Texas, otherwise known as the Lone Star State, is home to a wide variety of cultures and vast landscapes. Despite being the state with the most registered firearms in 2021, the state is home to many incredibly welcoming inhabitants—giving Texas the secondary nickname of “the Friendly State.” 

One thing that the state isn’t friendly towards, however, is gambling. In fact, the state has some of the most restrictive gambling laws in the US, and players living there have very few opportunities to play like a pro.

If you’re from Texas, planning on relocating there, or just passing through, keep reading to find out all you need to know about gambling laws in the region.

History of Gambling in Texas

In 1903, Texas lawmakers decided to outlaw all forms of gambling. This came on the back of widespread support for the move by residents who felt that the pastime should be prohibited.

By 1933, however, the state desperately needed financial support and began thinking of ways to generate new revenue. One agreed-upon method was to legalize the participation of pari-mutuel bets on horse racing events. 

While some believed this would be a catalyst to open the pastime in the region, this was short-lived. Just four years later, the laws allowing these bets were repealed, and all forms of gambling were again prohibited.

Nothing changed for many years—until it was decided in 1971 that charities could operate lotteries to raise much-needed financial assistance for their various activities. However, this only lasted a short while because they were again banned in 1973.

Although pari-mutuel betting was again legalized in 1987—this time for both horse and dog races—nothing major changed in the local laws until the following year. In 1988, the state passed the Indian Gambling Regulatory Act, which permitted federally recognized Native American tribal casinos to operate. Although the act opened the door for gamblers, the state has since repeatedly attempted to repeal it. 

The next significant change to local laws occurred in 1991 when a state lottery was commissioned. This move led to the launch of several lotteries in the state that have proven successful in raising substantial money for the government.

In 2018, many people thought things would change when the Supreme Court decided to allow each state to determine its laws surrounding gambling and sports betting—both online and in person. Sadly, as of 2023, although interest in legalizing casinos has grown significantly, no laws have been passed to this effect. 

Physical Casinos

As mentioned above, physical casinos in Texas are entirely banned under state law. The only exception to this was granted to three tribal casinos under the aforementioned Indian Gambling Regulatory Act. 

While this act gave full permission for these casinos to offer their services to locals, they were still vehemently opposed by many in law enforcement. As such, constant attempts have been made to close these casinos and repeal the legislation allowing them.

Although these attempts at reversing the law have failed, the opposition from the state has succeeded in reducing the number of casinos. In 2016, the Speaking Rock Casino in El Paso officially closed its doors, leaving just two casinos in the state—one in Eagle Pass and one in Livingston.


The only lotteries allowable in the region are those operated by the state. Thankfully, many great lotteries are available through the Texas Lottery—including the legendary US Powerball and Mega Millions. The state also operates the Texas Lottery, Texas Two Step, All or Nothing, Pick 3, Daily 4, and Cash Five games.

Sports Betting

While sports betting has become one of the most popular forms of gambling internationally, it is still prohibited in the Lone Star State. That said, much lobbying has occurred in 2023 to legalize the activity.

Although House Bill 1942 made its way through the House in the state in February 2023, it was rejected before getting to the Senate. The bill, which made provisions for legalizing sports betting, will only be seen before lawmakers again in 2025. Therefore, sports betting remains illegal until this time.


Aside from lottery and horse race betting, bingo is one of the few forms of gambling allowed in the state. However, this comes under the condition that it is only offered to raise funds for charitable causes. As such, state-sanctioned bingo is prohibited, and there is no allowable way to access this popular game legally. 

Online Gambling

Although the first online casino launched way back in the late 1990s, the Texan government has never made any provision for people who want to gamble online. 

Due to a lack of legal framework and explicit mention of gambling being prohibited in the Texas Penal Code PEN 47.01 et seq., gambling online in the state is illegal. However, more than that, engaging in the activity grants the state power to prosecute individuals—not just the platforms providing the service.

It is considered a Class C misdemeanor alongside public intoxication, assault without injury, disorderly conduct, or theft under $100. Section 47 of the Texas Code allows authorities to fine players found using online casinos located outside of the state up to $500 for their “crime.”

Although this power is available to the government, it has not enforced it in any instances—despite many international casinos allowing Texan players and some sites even openly advertising the latest casinos in Texas.

However, while there has yet to be any active persecution that upholds this prohibition on online gambling, it should be noted that Texan players are advised to take caution when gambling with casinos offered online. With the current outlook of the legalization of these casinos not looking likely, the state could begin enforcement of these laws at any time.

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