Will Texas ever become more pro-gambling?

It’s one of the great ironies that the place that gave its name to the single most popular variant of poker – Texas Hold’em – could fine someone for actually playing the game for money. And it’s not just poker that could land you in trouble in the Lone Star State, it’s almost every kind of gambling too.

Texas, like many of the other states in the south of the US, takes a hard line of gambling, and an even harder one on anyone caught doing it for profit. But why is the state so against gambling?

What is currently allowed?

Even the state’s Native American casinos face legal challenges

While it’s very much frowned upon, gambling isn’t completely forbidden in Texas and several concessions have been made over the years.

For example, since 1933, parimutuel betting has been allowed in Texas on horse and greyhound racing. In this form of wagering, all the bets placed on a particular race are put in a central pot, with the winnings shared out at the end by the successful bettors.

Currently this form of gambling is only possible for those people attending the live events at the state’s horse and dog tracks. They also have strict limits on the number of race days that these tracks can hold each year.

Also permitted is the Texas Lottery, which has been in operation ever since 1992. This game has seen some huge jackpots over the years, as well as raising millions of dollars for good causes ranging from schools to veterans’ associations.

In fact, it seems like good causes generally get an exemption from the otherwise tough rules governing gambling.  Both raffles and bingo games are allowed, but only non-cash prizes are allowed for the former and a top prize limit of $750 applies to the latter. There are also restrictions on how many events each organization is allowed each year.

There are also several Native American casinos in the state in Eagle pass, El Paso and Livingston. However, there has been some legal issues over the years, with the state legislature repeatedly trying to close some of these down.

This is symptomatic of the general approach to gambling and why even casino ships operating beyond coastal waters have found a hostile attitude towards them too. An example of this came when there was a requirement to first stop in a foreign port of call before visiting Texas.

The online question

One area that has proved to be problematic for many states, not just Texas, has been online gambling. For over two decades,online gambling has been gathering momentum and replacing in-person betting for many people.

This has led to a few states updating their legislation to allow online gambling – including New Jersey and Nevada. But Texas currently does not.

If you do happen to visit one of the few states that do allow online gambling, such as New Jersey, we recommend sticking with a trusted and regulated site like 888 Casino. This leading operator offers a wide range of games, including roulette, blackjack and poker, as well as a huge number of popular slots. For European players, the site also features live casino games – run by a real dealer and streamed live. Altogether, this top online casino provides a great experience that’s virtually as good as the real thing.

The approach of other states

As we’ve already mentioned, Texas isn’t alone in prohibiting most forms of gambling, especially among the southern states. But it’s not the most severe – both Utah and Hawaii have banned all forms of gambling outright.

At the other end of the scale, there are the two obvious names, Nevada and New Jersey. As the homes of Las Vegas and Atlantic City respectively, it’s no surprise that these are two of the most liberal states in their approach to gambling. That said, in Nevada, lotteries and racetrack betting are not permitted.

A bigger surprise comes from the two states where all forms of betting are now legal – Indiana and Iowa, with Colorado not very far behind with its inhabitants allowed to take part in all gambling apart from online.

Are changes on the way for Texas?

Texans may still have to wait a while till they can bet on the Cowboys.

 In May 2018, the US Supreme Court made the momentous judgement that sports betting should be legalized for states that wanted it. Since then, there has been a distinct feeling that it could be a turning point on the country’s attitude to gambling.

This encouraged two Texan lawmakers, John Kuempel and Carol Alvorado, to put forward a proposal that would allow four casino resorts to be built in the state, as well the introduction of sports betting.

Despite the backing of the Las Vegas Sands organization, as well as major league teams like the Dallas Cowboys and the Texas Rangers, it seems that the bill stalled and will not be able to be raised again before 2023.

In conclusion

It looks like the status quo will remain in place for the next 18 months at the very least. But Texans will still have the chance to enjoy the gambling opportunities that do currently exist, and possibly look forward to the day when even more are made fully legal by the state.

Back to top button