Texas is the 2nd largest state in the United States of America, not only in size, but in population density, too. It’s also a traditionally conservative state, so it’s not really surprising that their gambling statutes are of a more restrictive nature. In fact, there is only one actual brick-and-mortar casino in Texas, while the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIEGA), a federal law passed in 2006, has considerably lowered the amount of online gambling websites available to US residents in general. This has prompted some Texans to rather gamble online at offshore sites – this is because the laws surrounding gamblers from Texas having offshore accounts is ambiguous in that it’s not explicitly legal, but neither is it explicitly illegal. Due to this ambiguity, no-one has been arrested for gambling online, but make no mistake, Texas is definitely not ‘for’ online gambling, so always proceed with caution and make sure that, at the very least, you’re playing at a licensed and regulated offshore casino. No such ambiguity exists for free play online gambling, however, as no money is being exchanged: in other words, there are no possible legal consequences if you’re a Texan and you do a search for fun play casinos, mobile social casinos, Facebook casinos, how to play on Facebook casinos, free play online casinos, free fun online slots, and social casino apps – you can happily go ahead and play without fear of reprisal.
Still confused? Let’s take a more in-depth look at what types of gambling are legal and what are not in the Lone Star State.
What Types of Gambling are Legal in Texas?
Depending on the type of gambling, Texas law says you must be 18 or 21 to gamble in the state. At 18, you can play bingo as a charitable game, as well as online, but not at a land-based casino. You can also play the state lottery, and bet on dog and horse racing. At 21, you can play bingo at a land-based casino, as well as other land-based casino games. Now let’s break it down with respect to each type of gambling.
- Land-based casino games: Yes, this is legal if you are of age (21 and over), but only on Native American lands, which are not subject to the same gambling laws as the rest of the state. Take note, however, there is only one physical casino in the whole state of Texas, namely Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino – and while there are 3 federally recognised tribes in Texas, only the Kickapoo tribe has been authorised to operate and own a casino. Here, you will find bingo and poker rooms, slot machines and table games.
- Online casino games: No online casinos are allowed within the state of Texas, and no Texan resident is allowed to operate an online casino business or accept bets online within the state’s borders. The law, however, is less explicit when it comes to playing online casino games. This means it’s not illegal for Texans to gamble online if they’re playing at licensed, regulated offshore online casinos – also, no-one has ever been arrested for gambling online. Put more simply, online gambling sites are illegal in Texas, but playing at offshore online gambling sites in Texas is not. Players from Texas can therefore expect to be accepted at the following offshore casino sites: Bovada, Slots.lv, Aladdin’s Gold, Lucky Red, and ClubWorld.
- Social gambling: Yes, this is legal as this normally includes bingo games, private card games, and auctions for charity, for which the “house” is not taking a cut of the proceedings. In other words, social gambling must take place within the confines of a private abode and the only economic benefit to be had must go to the winner or the charity organisation.
- Free play online gaming: As no money is exchanged when you play at fun play casinos, mobile social casinos, Facebook casinos, free play online casinos, free fun online slots, and social casino apps, this type of gambling entertainment is perfectly legal.
- State lottery: Yes, if you are 18 and older you can legally play the lottery in Texas.
- Online poker: There may be a popular game called Texas Hold’em, but if you want to play it legally at an online poker room somewhere in the state, there is only the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino. However, it is not explicitly illegal to play online poker at offshore online poker sites – BetOnline and Sports Betting are both secure sites that accept poker players from Texas. That said, it’s worth taking note that online poker is regarded as a game of chance in the Texas Penal Code, in that there’s the possibility you could win or lose something of valued based on chance, so tread carefully.
- Sports betting: When it comes to horse and greyhound racing, only pari-mutuel wagering is allowed in the state of Texas. Otherwise, there are several statutes on the federal level that impede Texans from participating in offline sports betting.
- Online sports betting: Texans can refer to offshore sportsbooks like Bovada, Sports Betting, BetOnline and 5Dimes if they want to bet on their favourite teams or sports. Like online gambling, there is no law making it explicitly illegal to bet online, but there are strict measures in place inhibiting offline sports betting.
- Fantasy sports betting: The Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIEGA) excludes fantasy sports games from its definition of gambling, as long as the prizes are not determined by the fees paid in or by the number of people that are playing, winners are determined because of knowledge and skill, and the results are not based on the score of a real-world game. Therefore, most fantasy sports betting sites are legal in the US, which means Texans should have no trouble playing at them.
While one would have expected Texas to be a lot bigger on gambling than it is – there is only one land-based casino and limited offline gambling opportunities – players from Texas can still play at selected offshore online casinos and online sports betting sites without finding themselves on the wrong side of the law. They won’t exactly be on the right side either, but no-one has ever been arrested for gambling online. That said, it’s unlikely that online gambling will be explicitly legalised anytime soon, and you should always bear in mind that laws can be changed overnight. Till then, the aforementioned sites and games can be enjoyed by you.