Texas is nestled in the heart of the southern United States, and its conservative leanings feed into the state’s view of the gambling industry at large. Texas online gambling is, therefore, limited.
Thanks to strict anti-gambling laws, Texas offers only a few gaming options to residents or visitors to the Lone Star State. Texas is home to two land-based casinos and a number of horse racing tracks.
Though a few recent bills have included language that would open the doors to online sports betting, they so far received no traction. As of now, the future of online gambling in Texas is unclear at best.
Some states with similarly prohibitive laws have changed their stance in recent years (Tennessee, for example, legalized online sports betting), which could prove a successful revenue driver. It’s possible that Texas could follow suit, but that possibility is still a long way off.
Texas Online Gambling Options
|Online Gambling Type||Legal Status In Texas|
|Online Casino||Illegal in Texas|
|Online Sports Betting||Illegal in Texas|
|Online Horse Race Betting||Illegal in Texas|
|Online Lottery||Lottery tickets are available only at licensed retailers in Texas|
|Daily Fantasy Sports||Offered in Texas, not explicitly legal or illegal by state law|
|Sweepstakes Casinos||Available to Texas players|
|Sweepstakes Poker Sites||Available to Texas players|
Sweepstakes Casino Overview
In the absence of any regulated online gambling sites, Texas players may encounter a variety of sweepstakes casino or poker sites. Chumba Casino and LuckyLand Casino are some of the most well-known brands in the space.
Sweepstakes casinos look and feel like true real-money online casinos. They offer huge selections of games like blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and slots.
Players purchase in-game currency, usually called “coins’ or something similar, which they use to play the games. Coins have no real value and can’t be redeemed or cashed out. In this way, sweepstakes casinos are a lot like social casino apps that only let you enjoy the games for fun using the in-game coins that you purchase.
However, there’s an added layer to sweepstakes casinos that sets them apart and allows them to operate. Players receive a small amount of “Sweeps Cash” or “Sweeps Coins” with each purchase. These are separate from the in-game currency and can be redeemed for cash prizes. They’re awarded via a sweepstakes model.
Additionally, players can get free sweeps cash or coins by mailing in a request. The ability to get sweeps cash for free and with each purchase allows sweepstakes casinos to operate legally, even in states with strict gambling laws like Texas.
Sweepstakes casinos can be an excellent alternative to real-money online casinos in states like Texas where the latter is prohibited.
Check out our guide to Texas Sweepstakes Sites for more information.
How Can I Gamble Online In Texas?
Outside of sweepstakes casino sites, the Texas online gambling landscape is relatively barren. Players don’t have many ways to play online outside of a few limited options. Here’s a rundown of where each form of online gambling stands in the Lone Star State.
Sweepstakes Poker Sites
VGW Malta Ltd., the owner of Chumba Casino, also runs Global Poker, a sweepstakes poker site. Global Poker and its competitors work just like a sweepstakes casino. Only instead of casino games, they offer online poker rooms with a sweepstakes model.
Everything works in the same way as in a sweepstake casino. Players can purchase coins for real money. With each purchase, they receive a small amount of Sweeps Cash that can be turned in for real money. The mail-in offer for free coins exists for sweepstakes pokers sites as well. This lets them offer their product in jurisdictions even with tight gaming restrictions.
Without any legal poker offerings aside from those in its two land-based casinos, Texas players may enjoy sweepstakes poker instead.
Daily Fantasy Sports
Texas has a fairly complex legal landscape with regard to Daily Fantasy Sports. State legislators, the attorney general, and Daily Fantasy Sports operators have been in tight contention over whether DFS should be legal in the state.
For now, DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo! and other operators still offer Daily Fantasy Sports contests to Texans. It seems the state is more concerned with determining whether DFS is lawful rather than prosecuting anyone who participates. So for now, Daily Fantasy Sports is a safe betting alternative for Texans while sports betting remains illegal in the state.
Online Horse Racing
Texas expressly prohibits online horse race betting anywhere in the state. Off-track betting is also prohibited. Instead, bettors must visit one of the state’s licensed race tracks to gamble on horse racing.
Even compared to other states with conservative stances on gambling, Texas law is fairly strict. Many states offer OTB facilities or allow online horse race wagering sites to operate freely even with other forms of online gambling barred.
For now, it seems Texas will hold steady in its stance, with no signs of legal online horse race betting on the horizon.
Generally, horse racing is similar to sports betting, and many states that embrace one also embrace the other. If Texas eventually lightens its restrictions on sports betting, look for horse race betting laws at the same time or shortly thereafter.
The Lone Star State does not allow the purchase of lottery tickets by mail, phone, or internet. Anyone wishing to purchase a lottery ticket in Texas has to visit a licensed retailer.
The Texas Lottery does offer an app for iOS and Android. Ticket sales are prohibited on the app as well, but it allows players to scan draw games and tickets to check if they’re winners, save lottery numbers, check jackpot amounts, view winning numbers, and locate licensed retail lottery sellers.
State legislators have shown no intent to legalize online lottery in the near- or mid-term future in Texas.
Online casinos are prohibited by Texas state law.
This looks incredibly unlikely to change any time soon. No bills to legalize online casinos have even been suggested among state legislators. The state’s historic opposition to gaming expansion of any kind looks like it will hold firm here. The same goes for online poker.
Online Sports Betting
In 2019, Texas lawmaker Eddie Lucio III introduced a sports betting bill that would regulate sportsbooks in the state. The bill did not move forward. There has been little-to-no sports betting activity in the Texas legislative branch since then.
Texas is generally opposed to expanding gaming options in the state, a position that looks as though it will hold firm for the foreseeable future.
Of all online gambling forms, sports betting has received the most recent traction in the United States. Despite the current stark outlook for sports betting in Texas, it may likely be the first form of online gaming to become truly legal in The Lone Star State.
When that will be (if it will happen at all) is uncertain. But as states embrace the possibilities of revenue and job generation that sports betting provides, there’s a glimmer of hope that Texas may eventually join the fray and offer legal sportsbooks.
For now, Daily Fantasy Sports are the closest alternative available to Texas bettors.
The Lone Star State’s Online Gaming History
There’s very little history of which to tell when it comes to Texas’ online gaming past. The state has always held firm in its opposition to games of chance, even going so far as to prohibit all but two casinos from operating in the state.
The online arena is no different, with Texas law strictly prohibiting digital gaming in nearly all forms.
Federal Online Gaming Laws
The US government prohibited all forms of online gambling under the Federal Wire Act of 1961. Since then, different legal and government entities have argued over what, exactly, that law covers. The Justice Department declared in 2011 that the law only applied to sports betting.
In the years since, the decision has been reversed so many times by so many different entities that it’s near impossible to keep tabs on. In 2018, a new decision from the Trump Justice Department retracted the 2011 opinion and indicating that the Wire Act covers all online gambling. But now, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals promises to fight that decision.
In short, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what the Wire Act covers on any given day thanks to so much back and forth.
Texas is still completely opposed to online gambling. Even a landmark Federal resolution allowing online gaming wouldn’t spark an immediate upheaval of the Lone Star State’s gaming laws.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), struck down by the United States Supreme Court in 2018, is the perfect example.
PASPA And Sports Betting
The SCOTUS decision to declare PASPA unconstitutional allowed states to enact their own sports betting laws. Many opted to allow the practice and have already regulated and launched full-fledged sports betting options for retail and digital. Texas, meanwhile, has made no such move despite the great success sports betting has been for states like New Jersey or Pennsylvania. As it stands, generally conservative states have been less likely to allow online sports betting, and Texas is among them.
Texas hasn’t shown any intent to legalize sports betting even with federal restrictions lifted, so there’s very little to latch onto in terms of hope for Texas’ online betting future.
Live Gambling In Texas
Texas law prohibits gambling, even in land-based properties, with only a few key exceptions. The state grants the right for Native American Tribes to open casinos on tribal land as part of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. The federal law allowed the National Indian Gaming Commission to regulate gaming for tribal properties.
Instead of moving to expand gaming in any meaningful way, Texas law makes it difficult to stay afloat. This is true even if a casino already operates legally under Tribal regulations. There are only two casinos and a handful of race tracks open in the state.
Gambling In Texas At A Glance
|Is lottery legal in Texas?||Yes, but you cannot purchase tickets online. Retail-only.|
|Does Texas have racetracks?||Yes|
|Does Texas have casinos?||Yes, there are two land-based casinos in Texas|
|What is Texas’ minimum gambling age?||21 (18 for lottery and Daily Fantasy Sports)|
|Who regulates Texas casinos?||The National Indian Gaming Commission oversees Texas’ two casinos|
Texas Casino And Racing Overview
Texas’ two casinos are Naskila Gaming, owned and operated by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, and Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino Hotel, owned and operated by the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas.
The casino landscape in Texas is small, with only two properties open. Casinos face long legal battles with the state of Texas to stay open, making it difficult for any new casinos to open. Because Texas is less friendly to gambling than most other states, casino operators stay clear to avoid undue costs or loss of revenue due to strict state limitations.
The one minor exception to Texas’ anti-gambling stance is horse racing. Though bettors can’t wager online, there are a few race tracks in the Lone Star State.
For Texans close to the border and willing to travel, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Louisiana all have active casinos a short distance outside of the Lone Star State.
For anyone looking to play at a land-based gambling destination in Texas, here’s a rundown of the properties that offer casino gaming or horse race betting.
|Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino Hotel||Eagle Pass||Casino|
|Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie||Grand Prairie||Racetrack|
|Sam Houston Race Park||Houston||Racetrack|
|Gillespie County Fairgrounds||Fredericksburg||Racetrack|
Texas Horse Racing
Texas has a horse race wagering scene. Four race tracks operate in the state and offer pari-mutuel wagering on those races.
Recent decades have brought tough times for Texas racecourses, however. Manor Downs closed in 2010 after financial struggles while Bandera Downs, years earlier, filed for bankruptcy in 1995.
There are a few racetracks remaining in Texas that still offer pari-mutuel betting. However, the state does not allow online or off-track betting at all, giving tracks a slim chance for meaningful revenue outside of in-person attendance and wagers.
Lottery is one of the few gambling options available to Texans. In fact, it’s the most widespread form of regulated gambling in the state. There are hundreds of retailers that sell Texas Lottery tickets, so lotto enthusiasts in the Lone Star State are in luck.
Online lottery is illegal in Texas, but anyone 18 or above can purchase a game at a licensed retailer. Below is an overview of the games on offer from the Texas Lottery.
Big Jackpot Draw Games
Powerball, Mega Millions, and Lotto Texas all have multi-million dollar prizes available to players who purchase entries into one of their drawings.
Each game draws a winner tice weekly.
This game features a rolling jackpot that starts at $200,000, and drawings take place every Monday and Thursday at 10:12 p.m. Central Time. Winners receive their jackpot in a lump-sum payment because everything is bigger in Texas!
All Or Nothing
Match all 12 numbers or none of the twelve numbers for a chance at this game’s $250,000 top prizes. Drawings occur six days a week.
With a top prize of $500 on a $1 ticket, Pick 3 is a simple game with a chance at a great prize. Pick your numbers and watch the drawing, which happens six nights per week.
Daily 4 has a number of available prizes based on how you play. It’s played four times a day Monday through Saturday. Minimum play is 50 cents with five different types of play.
Match all five numbers from a field of 35 digits for a $25,000 top prize. Match 4, 3, or 2 numbers for respectively smaller cash wins.
More Information About Gambling In Texas
- Texas Lottery Homepage
- National Indian Gaming Commission Homepage
- FindLaw Texas Gambling Law Hub
- Texas State Law Library: Gambling Laws
Texas Online Gambling FAQ
Is it legal to gamble at casinos in Texas?
Yes. however, your options are limited. Texas only has two casinos: Kickapoo Eagle Pass and Naskila Gaming in Livingston.
Those are the only two properties currently operating in the state. Texas law restricts gaming expansion, making it very difficult for new casinos, even those run by Native American tribes, to open in the state.
Who regulates gambling in Texas?
The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) oversees the state’s tribal casinos from a regulatory standpoint.
The Racing Commission of Texas governs horse and greyhound racing, and the Texas Lottery is regulated by the Texas Lottery Commission.
Who owns the casinos in Texas?
The Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas owns and operates the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino Hotel.
The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas owns and operates Naskila Gaming in Livingston, Texas.
Those are the only two operating casinos in the Lone Star State.
Does Texas allow online sports betting?
No. Even though the United States Supreme Court declared the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional in 2018, that only opened the door for states to legalize sports betting.
Texas has made no moves to regulate sports betting either in the retail or online formats. A few state lawmakers have introduced bills that would regulate sports betting, but the bills have received no support, leaving Texas a state without any sportsbooks online or otherwise.
Do I have to pay taxes if I win at a casino?
Yes. You are subject to all state and federal laws when you gamble at a casino in Texas, taxes included. Winnings are subject to a 24% tax rate at the federal level. Tax rates kick in after a certain win amount, which depends on the game you’re playing.
Is gambling online legal in Texas?
No. Texas has a number of laws that restrict gambling in most forms, online among them. The only legal forms of gambling in Texas are in-person pari-mutuel wagering on horse races, land-based casino gaming at one of the state’s two casinos, and the state lottery.
There are DFS operators in the state and some sweepstakes casino and poker sites that accept Texas players.
What kinds of games can I play at Texas casinos?
Texas’ two casinos have a wide variety of games available to players. You’ll find slots, table games, and more on the casino floor. Blackjack, roulette, baccarat, and many others are popular among players.
Casino websites usually offer a full game list, so you can check the property’s website for more information.
Is online gambling safe in Texas?
No. Online gambling is strictly prohibited by law. If you play online in Texas, you are risking prosecution and possibly giving your information to malicious sites. Online gambling in Texas should be avoided due to the state’s anti-gambling legislation.
Sweepstake model poker and casino sites and daily fantasy sports are allowed to operate in Texas, but use them with caution.
How old do you have to be to gamble at casinos in Texas?
The state’s two casinos only allow gamblers 21 and over. Racetracks only allow those above 21 to place wagers, though they typically allow anyone younger to attend races.
Players 18 and above can participate in Texas’ lottery games.
Do I have to be a Texas resident to play at the state’s casinos?
No. Anyone visiting the state is allowed to play at a Texas casino as long as that person is over the age of 21.