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Texas Gambling Laws

Despite the popularity of Texas Hold 'Em, betting on card games is illegal in the Lone Star State. In fact, Texas gambling laws are relatively strict and only allow residents and visitors to bet on horse racing and greyhound dog racing. Some exceptions to the rule include "social gambling" (such as office pools), bingo, and charitable raffles. As a rule of thumb, betting on games of chance (other than horse or dog racing) is prohibited in Texas.

The following table highlights the basic provisions of Texas gambling laws, with additional in-depth information following it. See Details on State Gambling Laws for more general information.

Code Section PEN 47.01 et seq.; Civ. St. 179e
Gambling Agreement to win or lose something of value solely or partially by chance.
Horse Racing/Off-Track Betting Licensed horse racing; simulcast races and on-track pari-mutuel wagering are legal.
Dog Racing/Off-Track Betting Limit of three racetrack licenses for greyhound racing. Simulcast races and on-track pari-mutuel wagering are legal.
Casinos Allowed? Keeping a gambling place is prohibited.
Other Kinds of Gambling-Related Activities Allowed or Banned Promoting gambling; keeping a place of gambling, communicating gambling information; possessing gambling devices with intent to further gambling illegal. Social gambling; bingo and raffles sponsored by charitable organizations allowed. Bona fide contests of skill allowed.

Texas Definition of Gambling

Texas defines a bet as agreeing to win or lose something of value based solely or partially on chance. This encompasses many different forms of gambling including cards, table games, betting on sports games, horse and dog races, slot machines, lottery, and scratch tickets.

Permitted Horse and Dog Racing in Texas

Texas gambling law allows for horse and dog racing, but the purveyor must obtain a racing license from the state before holding the race. Much of the betting at these races is called pari-mutuel wagering, and payouts come from a large pool of all the bets on a race, and are in an inverse proportion to the likelihood of the outcome.

Casinos

Texas law does not allow for casinos. The gambling law specifically prohibits "keeping a gambling place." However, Native American lands are not subject to the same state gambling laws, and there is at least one legal casino in Texas on native lands.

Social Gambling in Texas

One big exception in Texas gambling laws is social gambling. This normally includes bingo games, auctions for charity, and private card games. If the "house" takes a cut of the proceeds, they may be in violation of the gambling laws. Under the law, the gambling must be done in a private place, the only person to receive any economic benefit must be winner of the bet, and the chances of winning and losing must be even between all participants (except for individual skill and luck).

If you would like to know more about Texas gambling laws, there are many gaming attorneys throughout the state with gaming law experience who may be able to help. These attorneys will be able to advise you on the best practices for hosting social card games, and charitable auctions in order to avoid prosecution or breaking the law. As well, these attorneys may have information about overcoming a gambling addiction, and may be able to help you recover any money lost as a result of exploiting your addiction.

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