Online Sports Betting in Texas

Despite sharing its name with one of the most popular forms of poker (Texas Hold’em), gambling in Texas is actually subject to some of the strictest gambling laws in the United States.

That said, conservative Texas does offer its citizens and visitors a range of legal betting options, including live horse racing online, a state lottery, some live poker, and charitable gambling.

Gambling Type Legal Land-Based Legal Online
Sports Betting No No
Casinos Yes No
Fantasy-Sports (DFS) N/A Yes
eSports No No
Poker Yes No
Horse-Racing Yes No
Lottery Yes No
Charitable Gambling Yes No

Texas Gambling Tax Rate

There is no state tax on gambling winnings in Texas.

Federal taxes may apply to large wins.

Texas Legal Gambling Age

Gambling Type Age
Casinos 21
DFS 18
Horse Racing 21
Lottery 18
Charitable Gambling 18

Sports Betting Laws in Texas

Sports Betting in Texas is tied to developments at the Federal level. In May 2018, New Jersey was successful in its legal challenge against the Federal nationwide-ban of betting-on-sports.

The ending of the 26-year-long Federal law prohibiting legal sports betting has resulted in a gift of allowing all 50 states of the union self-determination on offering legal sports betting to their citizens or not.

New Jersey legalized sports betting shortly thereafter and others have since joined the legal sports betting states (alongside long legal Nevada). Several more are expected to legalize sports betting in 2018/19 and an additional 15 states have legislation scheduled for debate in their respective State Houses.

Is Sports Betting Legal in Texas?

Presently, Texas is able to offer state residents and visitors no other legal sports betting options beyond DFS, and horse-and-greyhound racing at the state’s racetracks (read below in our sports betting online section the current legal environment concerning online horse betting in Texas).

For the time being, you are unable to place a bet in Texas on your favorite teams like the Dallas Cowboys or the San Antonio Spurs.

Texas Gambling Laws don’t look favorably upon illegal sports betting, and the conservative State Legislature is unlikely to introduce any sports betting legalizations bills for discussion anytime soon.

A recent study by the American Sports Betting Coalition outlined that legal and regulated Texas sports betting industry could add $1.7 billion annually to the Texas economy and create an additional 9,300 jobs.

It’s unlikely to change soon, but the numbers are compelling for change.

Is Online Sports Betting Legal in Texas?

Online sports betting currently sits outside the legal framework in Texas.

However, there are historic legislative precedents in Texas regarding the potential legalization of online sports betting in the state, attempts to become one of the states in which gambling online is not only accepted but legislated as 100% legal.

In 2017, bill HB 3926 was introduced to the State Legislature and it looked to amend the Texas Racing Act to allow state residents to bet on horse and greyhound racing in Texas, across the United States and internationally on legal betting sites. Cleverly, legislators tied the bill to a funding effort to better protect Texan police officers with improved body armor, and supply gamblers with an additional choice of funding charities of their choosing. Even showing the good causes that the bill could fund could not sway the conservative Texan Legislators, and the bill was defeated.

However, given the bill progressed at all, shows the first soft winds of change are beginning to blow in Texas, and transformations in the state’s codes may occur one day.

Until then, players looking for legal online sports betting options in Texas can legally play real money DFS competitions in the state.

Casinos in Texas

Whilst there are no commercial casinos in Texas, the state does offer one Tribal Casino that offers limited casino services (live poker, live bingo and approximately 2800 slots only) on Kickapoo Tribal lands.

Many bus companies ferry Texan residents each day on excursions to visit nearby casinos in the neighboring states of Nevada, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

Texas Cruise Casinos

Cruise Ships and converted mega-yachts occasionally sail into international waters off the coast of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico in order to legally offer casino games, including slot games, live dealer casino table games (including baccarat, blackjack, roulette and poker) and sportsbooks.

Online Casinos in Texas

In addition to the abovementioned attempt to legalize online horse racing in 2017, Texas has some history in attempting to legalize types of online gambling.

In 2013, Texas Ballot Measure SJR No. 43 and the Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013 (HR 2666) both sought to legalize online poker in the Lone Star State.  Their approval would have surely led to a precedent whereby online casino play in general would have become legal in Texas.

Despite these successive online gambling legalization attempts, Texas has decided that unlicensed and unregulated online gambling is illegal under State Law.

For the time being, online players in Texas are recommended to ONLY take part in LEGAL real money online betting games ONLY (i.e. Currently DFS). Online players in the Lone Star State should not play ANY online casinos (either U.S. based online casinos or off-shore sites) until state legislators decide on a legalization pathway for online casinos.

Horse Racing Betting in Texas

Wagering at racetracks is one of the only legal forms of gambling in Texas and the Horse Racing Industry in the state is administered by the Texas Racing Commission,  a body is responsible for licensing of the state racetracks, approving racing events, animal welfare, simulcasting and track management.

Track Side: Race betting is the only form of gambling beside the lottery that’s widely accepted (legally and socially) across the state. Dog and horse racing tracks are common in the Texas’ five largest cities (possibly due to the lack of casinos in the state). Live, simulcast and off-track betting is available at horse and greyhound racing venues in Texas.

Off-Track Betting (OTB) & Online Betting on Horse Racing in Texas: Other than OTB betting at tracks, OTBs and Online Betting on Horse Racing are not permitted under Article 11 of the Texas Racing Act;

“The commission shall adopt rules to regulate wagering on greyhound races and horse races under the system known as pari-mutuel wagering. Wagering may be conducted only by an association within its enclosure. A person may not accept, in person, by telephone, or over the Internet, a wager for a horse race or greyhound race conducted inside or outside this state from a person in this state unless the wager is authorized under this Act.”

Texas Daily Fantasy Sports Law

The United States Federal lawmakers have ruled that Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) competitions are not concluded to be gambling. Federal Law now actually perceives DFS to be skills-based games, not games of chance. With the Federal ruling, each state has been emboldened to resolve their own legal stance on DFS competitions.

For all their recent attempts to rule positively on DFS legalization (State House Bills H 1457, H 1422 and H 1418 were all introduced in 2015 to 2017 alone), Texas lawmakers have been unable to reach an agreement on a licensing regime for DFS competitions in the state.

Major DFS sites in the meantime are all legally accepting players from the state of Texas for their real money competitions.

What is a DFS competition?

Daily fantasy sports (DFS), in its purest form is not an arduous concept. It’s loosely based on the season-long fantasy contests that tens of millions of people play each year (offered across MMA, MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA, PGA Golf and NCAA football and basketball), but especially more so in football and for the NFL season.

In season-long fantasy competition, you and a group of other people pick teams of players. Your team compiles points based on those selected players’ statistics over the course of a season. The winner is simply the person who drafts players with the best statistics whilst staying within their salary cap.

DFS is similar to those season-long contests, except reduced back to a single day or sometimes a week. Rather than drafting a team for an entire season, you select a team of players for just a day, or perhaps a single week, in the case of NFL DFS contests. However, in DFS, you could be playing against millions of people who all ‘pay to play’. Prize money is thereby funded from the money earnt from each of the millions of player’s minimal entry fees of just few dollars for each competition.

Daily, weekly or season-long DFS competition winners can possibly receive as much as $1 million for any one of the DFS competitions.

Poker Laws in Texas

Live Poker can be played at Texas’ sole Tribal Casino, and social poker is also legal in Texas, however, to be considered legal, the participants need to demonstrate a prior social relationship, and nobody must profit from hosting the game/s.

Of course, Cruise Casinos also offer Live Poker, although theoretically they are not-based in Texas.

Online Poker Laws in Texas

Online Poker is considered to be illegal in Texas. See above sections ‘Online Sports Betting in Texas’ and ‘Online Casinos in Texas’ and ‘Online Horse Racing Betting in Texas’ for further explanation.

Texas eSports Betting

When the day comes that Texans will be able to legally bet on sports, betting on eSports in the Lone Star State will transform the available gambling options. As a ‘next generation’ category of sports betting, eSports betting should evolve quickly into a trusted strain of betting that does not have any nebulous illegal history.

The ‘eSports’ phenomenon explained in a nutshell

eSports (i.e. ‘competitive gaming’ in popular multi-player online video games like Street Fighter, Rocket League, Fortnite and others) is the largest and fastest growth sector in global sports betting.

From humble-beginnings in the underground-LAN-gaming-community, mainstream sports respectability of eSports has evolved. Professional teams and players compete in global tournaments offering vast prize money attended by huge crowds and watched online by millions-of-viewers.

A huge gambling scene has now grown up around eSports, with competitive betting markets and attractive odds on the major network of global eSports tournaments framed by international bookmakers.

eSports betting markets will be among the first legal betting markets framed by legal Texan bookies soon after legal sports betting lands in the Lone Star State.

What Legal Sports Betting Could Mean for Texas

  • The American Sports Betting Coalition recently estimated that legal sports betting in Texas could add $1.7 billion annually to the state’s economy and overnight create up to 9,300 jobs.
  • How far any potential sports betting legislation in Texas may go will depend on the economy at the time of debate in the State House. Depending on the state budget at the time, if important state issues like hurricane relief, education funding, domestic violence, policing, fire departments and other key goodwill-and-charities should potentially take priority over any philosophical gambling debate.
  • When sports betting is legalized it should assist in developing other sectors of the gambling industry. For example, if gamblers head to a racetrack to place a bet on the Dallas Cowboys, they might stick around to have a meal, a few drinks and perhaps even place a bet on the horses.
  • With nearby Mississippi and Nevada already offering legal sports betting, legalizing sports betting in Texas could assist in keeping some of the estimated $3 billion annually leaving the state, in the Texan economy.

History of Texas Gambling

1933-37; Horse Racing betting legal in Texas.

1971; Charitable gaming legalized in the Lone Star State.

1973; All gambling outlawed.

1987; Horse Racing re-legalized.

1989; Charitable gaming re-legalized.

1992; Texas State Lottery begins.

1996-2002; Disputes between Tribes and the State Government result in only one Tribal Casino remaining open in Texas.

2013-2017; Multiple Bills introduced to Texas State Legislature on legalizing online poker, horse-racing and DFS. All were defeated.

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