Texas Casino Laws

Texas is one of the most famous US states, ranking second in terms of population and size. Indeed, there’s a lot to explore if you visit the region, but if you’re a casino fan, you might wonder, “Is gambling permitted?”

When it comes to such laws in the US, it’s largely a state affair. Some states have embraced sports betting, casino gaming, and other forms of gambling within their borders. Meanwhile, many others forbid it. Where does Texas stand? That’s what we’ll be discussing in this post.

Gambling in Texas

texas casino gambling chips

Texas Casino Gambling

If you visit casinos to play table games, one of the most popular you’ll find is Texas Hold ‘Em — an interesting poker variant. The consensus is that the game owes its origins to Robstown, Texas, in the early 1900’s.

With that, it’s easy to tell that gambling isn’t new to the region. However, at the moment, the activity is largely illegal.

In Texas, you mostly can’t place sports bets or wager on casino games. There are some exceptions, anyway, but the laws are generally strict.

In fact, you can only gamble at land-based casinos on Native American tribal lands, and there are only three of those.

Like numerous other US states where gambling is illegal, many have continuously pushed for Texas to allow the activity. However, the responses from the state legislature are always negative.

Which Types of Gambling Are Permissible in Texas?

As stated in the previous section, there are some exceptions regarding gambling in Texas. Besides the Native American casinos, the state welcomes charitable gaming with bingo and raffles. Then, there’s lottery, pari-mutuel betting, and social gaming. Let’s discuss these.

Charitable Gaming

The idea of charitable gaming is simple. Players bet and win like in regular gambling, but they don’t pocket the cash winnings. Instead, the organization in charge donates the money to charity. Raffles and Bingo are the only two forms of charitable gaming allowed in Texas.

Raffles

raffle tickets

Raffle Tickets

In Texas, eligible organizations can run two raffles per year for charity. Particularly, the organization must be non-profit, and the raffle won’t involve cash prizes. The law permits non-cash prizes up to the tune of $50,000. But if it’s a house, it can be up to $250,000. Besides these conditions, how the charitable raffles work is not much different from the regular pattern.

Bingo

Here’s the most popular form of charitable gambling in Texas. Unlike raffles, it’s not limited to non-profit organizations, as community groups can also operate bingo games. However, anyone interested must get a license from the Charitable Bingo Operations Division of the Texas Lottery Commission. The license restricts each operator to three bingo sessions every week. Additionally, it’s worth noting that the prize value is capped at $750 per game.

bingo game elements

Bingo Elements

Native American Gaming

Some areas in the US are home to Native American tribes and, as such, have tribal sovereignty. In other words, state laws don’t apply to them. Texas has three officially recognized tribes, including the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe, the Tigua Tribe, and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe. Each has a casino.

The Kickapoo Traditional Tribe operates the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino in Eagle Pass. Meanwhile, the Tigua Tribe runs the Speaking Rock Entertainment Center in El Paso. For the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, they’re the owners of Naskila Gaming in Livingston. Notably, at these three gambling houses, visitors usually play slot-machine-like bingo games.

Pari-mutuel Betting (Horse Racing)

Texas horse racing fans can gamble via pari-mutuel wagering. The state’s laws permit this for horse and greyhound tracks under regulations by the Texas Racing Commission. Interestingly, this form of gambling was first legal in 1933, when the government aimed to source money to combat the Great Depression.

The Texas Racing Commission issues four classes of licenses to pari-mutuel betting operators. Basically, the difference is in the number of days racing is allowed. Here’s the rundown:

  • Class 1: Unlimited number of racing days
  • Class 2: Maximum of 60 racing days per year
  • Class 3: Maximum of 16 racing days per year
  • Class 4: Maximum of five racing days per year

horse racing

Horse Racing

Lottery

In Texas, it’s possible to gamble in the government-operated lottery. The lottery kicked off in 1992 and accommodates an interesting range of lottery games. Some notable highlights include Powerball and Mega Millions — which are also popular across the United States.

Social Casinos

Also known as sweepstakes casinos, these are basically platforms where you access casino games for free. You can play slots and table games without using real money but virtual coins. It’s all about fun and enjoyment.

As you’d expect, winnings are also in virtual currencies. However, some sweepstakes casinos allow players to redeem cash prizes. Since players don’t use real money, this form of gambling is legal in Texas.

Economic Impact

Many experts theorize that Texas is losing out on billions of dollars by keeping gambling illegal. Indeed, as the second most populous state in the US, there’s no argument that gaming revenue can significantly impact Texas’s economy. Already, reports have it that many Texans engage in unregulated betting worth $5.4 to $21.6 billion per year.

Nevertheless, Texas has shown that its economy can fare well without revenue from gambling. In terms of GDP, it’s the second-richest state in the US.

economy impact

Economy Concept

Social Consequences

At the moment, there’s a social divide in Texas on the subject of gambling. While a few lawmakers want the activity to be legal, the majority are against it. Consequently, this can affect how they collaborate in other legislative matters.

However, perhaps the major social consequence of gambling being illegal in Texas is the room for unregulated betting. Since there are no defined laws, Texans who engage in underground gambling are at risk. It’s possible for them to encounter fraud platforms in their bid to bet by all means. Of course, there’s also the issue of problem gambling with no responsible gaming regulations in place.

Conclusion

The state of Texas remains one of the unfriendly places for gambling enthusiasts. Nevertheless, the acceptable forms of gambling should provide some excitement. If you’re a casino fan in Texas, you can still enjoy your favorite games for free on sweepstakes gaming platforms.

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Martin Vatev's exploration into the world of words began not amid the pages of fictional tales but within the bustling, pragmatic environments of newsrooms and media outlets. As a student of Journalism at the Technical University of Dortmund, Martin was swiftly plunged into the ecosystems of stories that were urgent, real, and imperatively bound to the world's happenings. By taking part in different local media, his days were enveloped in uncovering facts, ensuring objectivity, and rendering narratives that adhered strictly to the pulses of reality.

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