A Guide to Gambling in Texas

Texas flag
Everything is bigger in Texas, or so the saying goes. Famous for its picturesque landscapes, BBQ, and live music, Texas is one of the largest US states that’s known around the world. While the state lends its name to games like Texas Hold ‘Em and has inspired many Western-style games, most forms of gambling are currently illegal. There are no legal, real money online casinos or sportsbooks.

That doesn’t mean that people living in Texas are unable to gamble completely,. however. There are some tribal casinos located in the Lonestar State and you can also find multiple sweepstake casinos online which allow you to play casino games and potentially win prizes.

In this guide, you’ll learn all about the different rules and restrictions relating to gambling and what you can and can’t do. If you want to start playing casino games or placing bets, you’ll need this guide if you’re living in Texas or planning to visit anytime soon. We’ll cover everything from the laws, the forms of gambling that are legal, online casinos, Poker, and the lottery. The guide will also explain horse and dog racing, tribal casinos, and the history of gambling in Texas.

Online Gambling and Texas Law

Unfortunately, while online gambling laws have been relaxed across the United States, Texas is one state that has stood firm on its decision. For now, at least, all forms of online gambling remain illegal under the law of the state. While it is possible to find alternatives, it’s difficult for Texas residents and visitors to place bets and play casino games online.

Currently, Texas lawmakers are deliberating over two bills which could lead to legalized sports betting in the state. While sports betting remains illegal at the present time, a change to federal law now means that states are free to legalize it if they wish. If sports betting is legalized, it’s possible that other forms of gambling could follow, including online gambling.

Is Online Gambling Legal in Texas?

The short answer is that no gambling is unfortunately not legal in Texas at this time. That includes online sports betting, online casinos, and online Poker sites. It’s possible to get around these laws, however, as you can still legally sign up and play at sweepstake sites. Some people also choose to play at offshore casinos or use offshore online sportsbooks. While these aren’t legal, you can’t be prosecuted for using them.

Sweepstake sites skirt online gambling laws by offering social casino games. Rather than play for money, players can play for fun and these sites offer all the most popular casino games including table games and slots. Players can also purchase coins and use these coins to potentially win prizes. If you win, you can then cash out your coins sort of like using chips at a land-based casino.

There are also fantasy sports sites available for Texas players to sign up to. Fantasy sports sites let players sign up, create a team, and join one of the hundreds of thousands of different competitions. Players pay a small fee to enter or play for free and there are real cash prizes to be won.

What Forms of Gambling Are Legal in Texas?

Texas is quite strict on which forms of gambling are allowed in the state. Whether you’re living in Texas or just visiting, you’ll need to know the rules and where you can play. Although gambling is limited, there are still some forms of gambling available to those in Texas. See below for more details about some of the common types of gambling and how to access them.

Online Casinos

Online casinos have grown rapidly in popularity over the last decade thanks to better games, more site variety, and exciting bonus offers. Online casinos are popular across the United States but are still unable to operate legally in a lot of the country. While some states have legalized online casinos, Texas remains a step behind in that regard.

Those living in Texas or visiting the state can still play casino games online, however. There are several social gambling or sweepstake sites that provide a way to play real casino games and some of these even offer the opportunity to win real cash rewards. Players can also sign up to offshore online casinos, although these are unlicensed and there’s no way to verify that they’re safe to play at.


Gambling on Poker, like other card games, is against the law in much of the Lone Star state. The gambling laws in texas prohibit the operation of real money Poker sites or Poker rooms. It’s a shame, considering the history of Poker and its connection with Texas. However, if players in Texas want to enjoy one of the world’s best-loved card games, they’ll need to play at a social gambling site or join a sweepstakes Poker site.

Sweepstakes Poker sites allow Texas players to exchange cash for coins and gamble using their coins. These sweepstake sites work in mostly the same way as a real casino, as players can exchange any coins they win for real cash, effectively bypassing the state’s gambling laws and playing Poker for real money. Some players also choose to play at offshore Poker sites and while this may be tempting, it can be risky as there’s no guarantee your money is protected.

The Texas State Lottery

As with many other US states, Texas has its own state lottery which gives out regular prizes to lucky winners. Anyone over the age of 18 is able to purchase a ticket and there are multiple lotteries available. Choose between Lotto Texas lottery, Texas Two Step, All or Nothing, and daily games. There are also multi-state lotteries available such as Mega Millions and Powerball which offer some massive jackpots. If you prefer instant winners, you can also purchase scratch cards.

Horse and Dog Racing

Horse racing and greyhound racing are one of the only forms of gambling allowed in the state of Texas. However, not all forms of wagering are accepted. Racecourses operate across the state and can legally allow visitors to place pari mutuel wagers on the races. This means that visitors can bet between themselves, and the bettors who placed bets on the first three places take the stakes.

Native Tribe Casinos

Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, Native American tribes are allowed to operate casinos on their land. There are three different tribes located in Texas although Texas state law permits only the Kickapoo Traditional tribe to operate a casino in the state. The Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino is located in Eagle Pass and is the only legal casino in the entire state of Texas. If residents of Texas or visitors to the state want to enjoy some casino gambling, the Native American tribal casino is one of the only places to allow it under the Texas gambling laws.

History of Gambling in Texas

Although Texas has some of the strict laws against gambling of any of the US states, it wasn’t always this way. Texas was actually the birthplace of a lot of different forms of gambling including Texas Hold ‘Em Poker, which is the most played card game in the world today.

Card games were a popular past time in America during the 1800s thanks to the lack of other forms of entertainment. Cards were easy to learn and you could play anywhere and any way you liked. In the early 1900s, Texas Hold ‘Em Poker was first formed in Robstown Texas. Little is known about who invented it or how, but what we do know is that it quickly spread through the state as people played in bars and saloons.

Unfortunately, gambling was made illegal across the whole of the US in 1910, which limited how successful the game could become. Texas gambling laws meant that players who were caught gambling could be fined and so it wasn’t until the 1960s that this form of Poker was introduced to Las Vegas and really took off.

In the 1970s, federal law decided that states could make their own laws regarding gambling. However, Texas has shown little sign of easing the laws, and Texas gambling is still limited to a few locations. As time goes on, we may see a change in how gambling is perceived by state lawmakers, but for now, at least, Texas remains a difficult place for gambling enthusiasts.