Welcome to Texas! The second largest state by geography and by population, located in the central south bordering Mexico. You will find that Texas gambling is quite limited when compared to many other states, but change is afoot. In history, Texas has been known to be a conservative state, however times are changing and there is a swing towards liberalism, albeit small.
While it is currently illegal for online casinos to operate within Texas, there are plenty of offshore options that you can play at which provide a perfectly safe and entertaining experience. In fact, Texas ranks in the top 3 US States for the highest number of players at offshore online casinos. Wagering an estimated $75 million per year, it ranks just above Florida coming in fourth with $60 million and behind New York at $88 million. The state with the largest wagering for offshore online casino is California at $180 million.
In this guide we discuss what Texas offers in the gambling scene. We cover the State Lottery, Casinos and Cruises, Horse and Dog racing and a whole lot more.
If you can’t find the gambling options that you’re looking for in Texas, how about looking at bordering states. We have a section at the bottom of this page, which you can click on to review gambling options in nearby states.
Texas Online Gambling
With the exception of betting on horse racing, online gambling in Texas is illegal, however, similar to many other US states the Texan laws can be outdated and inapplicable. This produces a grey area in which online gambling could be deemed legal, and as a result, there are some offshore online casinos which accept US players from Texas.
Often the question of risk and penalties are asked from those considering playing online. The answer is extremely low. Just like other states, there have been no instances of Players being charged by law enforcement, however there have been cases of illegal gambling operators being prosecuted.
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Overview of Texas Casinos
Even though gambling is strictly prohibited in Texas there are a few exceptions. These exceptions are two casinos, and one slot machine venue.
Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino Hotel
794 Lucky Eagle Dr, Eagle Pass, TX 78852
Established in 1996, this Class II casino cum hotel is located in Eagle Pass, Maverick County Texas. Offering a wide variety of slots, bingo and poker. It has it all for the keen and avid players plus caters for the new and visitors. Run and owned by the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe, this casino and hotel is professionally operated. Ranked as the number one attraction in Eagle Pass, you will find all your real money action here!
The Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino Hotel is a tribal owned and operated and therefore is regarded as a Class II gaming facility under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Accordingly no tables games are permitted. This means no blackjack or craps can be offered. Games permitted include: slots, bingo and poker.
Over 90% of the gaming in Kickapoo is slots. With over 3,300 slot machines, they have the latest and are continually updating each month. Their range of machines accept pennies through to $10. They provide for both spinning reels and progressive jackpots. If you are a big slot fan, you will love it here!
5 days a week from Wednesday through to Sunday, you can enjoy bingo. Each day has at least two live bingo sessions. There are many promotions and prizes to be won. Take advantage of their birthday bingo promo!
A popular private poker room is available. It is so popular that often you have to be placed on a waiting list. There is a limit and no limit Texas Hold’em poker that can be played.
This casino offers an expansive array of player membership promotions. It is free to join up. They offer: Royal Flush, Super Tuesdays , half hour high hand, Splash the Pot, Aces Cracked, and Poker Pigskin Pick’em and more.
In addition Player points can be used for food and beverages discounts and for free gas. Needless to say the Player rewards are fantastic.
Restaurants and Bars
There are six restaurants that are currently being renovated. Azul – a new and fresh Mexican fine dining that has replaced Sage Steakhouse, Red Sky Grill – offering the juiciest BBQ ribs, Mezquite, The Buffet, Winners Sports Bar and Grill. There are also a few bars – Center Bar and High Limit Bar.
Entertainment includes: Karaoke, Live bands and DJs, and the Sunday Football.
Found in Eagle Pass, which is named on the migration patterns of eagles, Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino is surrounded by the Sanctuary of Guadalupe, Gran Plaza and the beauty of the Maverick County Lake.
Other Key Points
- 24 hour seven days a week gaming.
- The age limit for gambling is 21.
- There is free Wi-Fi and valet parking.
The Kickapoo Tribe is one of three in the state of Texas, however it is the only one “permitted” to legally offer Class II gaming. Being fought between the State and the two tribes without Class II gaming is the inequality of legality that has clearly divided the prosperity of tribes.
540 State Park Rd 56, Livingston, TX 77351
Some may consider a one hour drive from Houston short, however, this seems relatively long for me. Nevertheless, the drive is worth it because this place rocks!
The Naskila Gaming offers exactly 800 electronic games, 3 restaurants, 24/7 everyday of the year. The venue is divided into 2 non smoking areas and 2 smoking, and I mean literally divided, with a glass wall. So for non smokers, you will be very happy visiting this venue.
The membership club is free to join, offering VIP lounges, special promo’s, give away’s, free play and discounts. Seven Feathers Circle is the name of the players club, in which you can apply at the casino or online.
The venue is relatively small and extremely popular during the weekends. Many describe the machines as slot machines, but they are in fact Class II slot machines which are pumped up bingo machines. There are no table games, poker or keno machines. Only the Class II slot machines. These machines accept cash only, no debit or credit cards.
During peak times there may not be enough slot machines and queuing is required, however this is very rare. Free coffee and sodas, but no free alcohol, let alone any alcohol. There is great live entertainment on weekends. A great little place to play a few slot machines at.
There is a great buffet for $12. All you can eat for mashed potato, chicken and beef, fish, and side salad. $5 for the nachos.
Check out Naskila Gaming, it is an enjoyable little casino that will keep you coming back for more!
Jacks or Better Casino Cruise
715 N Holiday Dr, Galveston, TX 77550
Approximately 1hr and 15mins is needed to depart from port till reaching international waters. The boat is split into 3 decks. The lowest for slot machines, the middle deck for table games and poker, and the top deck for chilling out. Can get a bit choppy and is felt on the cruise. Try and go when waters are calm. Nevertheless, this is an awesome experience, and much fun to be had heading out on a boat to play a few games!
Casinos in Texas are illegal with the odd exception. There is strong opposition to gambling by some in the state. Unless there is a significant shift in conservative to more liberal views, a swing to pro gambling laws is unlikely in the near future.
The US is experiencing a huge change in sports betting. Many states are in the process of legalizing sports betting, and some are even considering online and mobile offerings.
Unfortunately sports betting is illegal in Texas, and this is a huge shame. The four major sports – NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL – have a strong presence in the State, and hence there would be a huge demand of sportsbooks operating in the State of Texas.
It is highly unlikely that this will change in the near future. There is no appetite to change the current laws, political will is lacking and culturally Texas remains a strong conservative state.
Although relatively new when compared to other states in the US, the Texas state lottery has become one of the largest revenue generators in the US. As an indicator as to how conservative the state is, it took over 12 years for the State Lottery to become legalized and operational.
The state of Texas offers:
- Scratch-off tickets
- Texas State only lotteries – Lotto Texas, Texas Two Step, All or Nothing, Cash Five, Pick 3, Daily 4, Texas Triple Chance
- Multi jurisdictional lotteries- Mega Millions, Powerball
Poker rooms in which facilitation between players is also banned in Texas. In early 2019 there was hope that poker rooms would be made legal by the state, given that illegal poker rooms are known to be run, and quite openly in public. However, although hopes were high, it was not to be. Facilitation of poker games remain illegal.
Horse and Dog Racing
Texas is only one of six states that offers dog racing. The others being Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, West Virginia, and Florida. That said, unlike sports betting which is on a growth spurt, dog racing is dying out. It’s popularity is diminishing and there is very little investment going back into dog racing tracks and promotions.
On the other hand, horse racing remains popular and is one of the few flourishing betting activities in Texas. Betting online for horse racing is legal and widely accepted.
Many States provide exemptions for the ownership and personal use of slot machines for the purposes of a hobby. Accordingly often a requirement is that the slot machines must be over a certain number of years old.
Texas, however, is unique in that there are no years requirement. Any individual is permitted to have in their possession slot machines, as long as, it is not used for the purposes of “gambling”.
7 Most Popular Texas Gambling Options for 2020
The latest data is out for gambling turnover in the State of Texas, and it is showing a steady and expected trend for the year 2020.
As described in the previous sections, this isn’t much gambling options available for a state with a population of over 30 million. Therefore the most popular gambling options projected for 2020 should not be surprising concentrated in the lottery, native American casinos, bingo and pull tabs. Rounding out the top 7, includes horse and greyhound racing, online casinos.
We will now break down the popularity of various forms of Texas gambling for the year 2020.
We use the projected gambling turnover, as stipulated by H2GC.com, in their collation of of data. The data is not definitive, and by no means detailed, but at a high level it is indicative of how the overall Florida betting scene is playing out. We use gambling turnover, rather than profits margins per gaming type, as it more aligns with the popularity of a game.
1. Texas Lottery – $6.2 billion
The Texas Lottery tops the list for 2019 in turnover raking in a whopping $6.2 billion. It appears that due to the limited gaming opportunities in the State, the Lottery is really popular! The $6.2 billion can be divided into $4.8 billion for instant games, and $1.4 billion for draw games. This is a lot of money!
Projected for the 2020 is an increase of $600 million to $6.8 billion. Playing Lottery games is by far the most popular form of betting in Texas.
2. Native American Casinos – $1.2 billion
Though there are only two casinos in the state of Texas, these two casinos manage to pull in $1.2 billion in gaming revenue. This is significantly a distant second behind the State Lottery, yet it shouldn’t be quickly disregarded. $1.2 billion is a material amount of money! Shared between two casinos!
Projected for the year 2020, is a slight increase to $1.3 billion.
3. Pull Tabs Charitable Gaming – $542 million
What is very clear is that, because there are limited gaming options, the gambling is concentrated into the few legal betting avenues, irrespective of what form they are. We therefore see Pull Tabs coming in at third. Raking in $542 million for the year 2019.
Projected for the year 2020, is a slight increase to $584 million.
4. Bingo Charitable Gaming – $452 million
I love bingo. Often considered a light form of gambling, bingo comes in at number 4. Pulling in $452 million through charitable gaming, bingo is quite popular in Texas, more so that other US States.
Projected for the year 2020, is a slight increase to $487 million.
5. Horse racing – $235 million
You would think that horse racing would be higher up on the list, however, I believe horse racing is a dying industry in the US, let alone Texas. Coming in at number 5, it’s still quite respectable, but you would expect it being more popular given the limited number of gambling options in the state. Particularly when bingo and pull tabs are able to generate a higher revenue, it sounds alarm bells that the industry isn’t going to well.
Projected for the year 2020, is a slight increase to $237 million.
6. Texas Online Casinos – $180 million
Online casino gambling is available via offshore only. The laws do not permit any onshore online casino, however due to the ambiguity of the laws offshore online casinos remain an option.
Coming in at sixth is a relatively small turnover of $180 million for online casinos.
The projection for the year 2020 is unchanged, remaining at $180 million.
7. Greyhound racing – $53 million
Greyhound racing, just like horse racing is a dying industry. They round out the top 7 forms of gambling options in Texas.
The projection for the year 2020 is unchanged, remaining at $53 million.
As you can see, the limited gaming options funnels most of the wagering through the State Lottery (by a long shot!). Respectably charitable gaming is very popular as with the two land casinos. Online casino betting near the bottom of the list, whilst horse and greyhound are also in the bottom half of the most popular betting options in Texas.
In 2018 with the overturning of the Federal ban by the Supreme court of online gambling and sports book wagering, it will be interesting how the states independently address their new found ability to change gambling laws. For some states it is clear cut whether they will proceed with change or not. For other states such as Texas it has yet to be seen whether they will follow suit of Delaware, New Jersey, Nevada and Pennsylvania, or remain with the status quo. It is most likely that Texas will remain with the status quo.
The Texas status quo is that card games is considered as illegal whilst betting on horses and greyhounds is legal. There are a few other exceptions such as bingo, office pools and charity raffles which are also allowed. The rules are quite strict and any game that requires an element of chance to win is regarded as being illegal. There is one exception and that is one casino established on native title land. In order for a change in gambling laws, there are several hurdles that need to be passed together which is extremely low of happening. The first is getting through the red tape. The state constitutional change requires an assessment of compatibility of gaming law with the pre existing constitutional laws and a proposal of changes to be made. Once proposed it then needs to pass state house, senate and attorney general for approval. For this to happen, There needs to be the political will to push this forward, which is unlikely. The second hurdle, is secularism of gambling in Texas. The general public are adverse to any changes in the current environment of gambling law.
A Lawyer’s Opinion
Despite the name Texas Hold’Em, the Lonestar State is very restrictive when it comes to gambling, with most all forms of land-based except for one casino of questionable legality and online gambling being prohibited. See Tex. Pen. Code § 47.01 et seq.
Sports Betting: Online betting on fantasy and real life sports are both illegal in the state of Texas though numerous platforms do accept Texas residents. Thus, individuals who wish to make online sportsbooks must do so through platforms operating outside of the state.
Race Betting: Like in many states, horse betting is legal in Texas at its racing as well as other venues that allow pari-mutuel betting. Off-track and online betting is not permitted. Thus, individuals who wish to make online race bets must do so through platforms operating outside of the state.
Online Gambling: Online gambling, including participation in poker rooms, is not permitted in the state of Texas. Even land-based poker games at one’s home and charitable events are not permitted. Thus, individuals wishing to participate in online gambling, including poker and other such games of skill, must place bets online through platforms operating outside of the state.
Online Gaming: Bone fide contests of skill are permitted through sites such as WorldWinner.
The information in this multi-state research is made available by a licensed, U.S. attorney, and is for informational purposes only. We make no representations that the information is complete or correct in its entirety. It should not be construed as providing specific legal advice, and you acknowledge that no attorney/client relationship exists between us. This brief should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed gambling and entertainment lawyer in your state.
- Wikipedia: Gambling in Texas
- Corpus Christi: What it will take for changes in Texas gambling laws
- Online Bingo Link: Online Texas Bingo
- Texas 18+ Casinos