Last updated: September 28, 2022
Texas sports betting is not legal yet, but hopes are high that something could happen soon.
Sports betting in Texas came under serious consideration during the 2021 legislative session. Multiple bills appeared that would have created a legal sports betting market. The next opportunity for legalization is in 2023 because the Texas Legislature meets every two years. In the meantime, several big names, including gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, have come out in support of legal sports betting in Texas. A coalition of Dallas-area sports teams, including the Texas Rangers, the Dallas Cowboys, and Dallas Mavericks, have voiced their support. The Houston Astros partnered with BetMGM, and Rush Street (BetRivers) joined forces with the Frisco Fighters in early August.
The Texas sports betting market would instantly become one of the most lucrative in the United States if it becomes legal. Keep reading for more about what the future of TX sports betting might look like.
What’s happening in TX sports betting right now
- September 26, 2022 — Backup QB Cooper Rush played well in starter Dak Prescott’s absence, and the Cowboys defeated the Giants 23-16 on Monday Night Football.
- September 19, 2022 — Major football teams in Texas had a good weekend, starting with Texas rebounding from its close loss to Alabama with a 41-20 win against UTSA. Despite being without QB Dak Prescott, the Dallas Cowboys beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 20-17.
- September 12, 2022 — Ahead of the 2022 NFL season, the Texas Sports Betting Alliance sent out a reminder that sports betting is not legal in the Lone Star state. The alliance projects the state could generate up to $278 million in its first legal biennium.
- August 24, 2022 — The Texas Sports Betting Alliance continues to work diligently ahead of the 2023 legislative session. The work is focusing on making sure legislators understand the value of legalizing sports betting.
- August 3, 2022 – Rush Street Interactive has agreed a marketing deal with Indoor Football League (IFL) team the Frisco Fighters.
- July 22, 2022 – Mattress Mack put down yet another big bet on the Astros to win the World Series, wagering $2 million with Barstool Sportsbook to win $10.6 million.
- July 1, 2022 – Texas legislators were among a bipartisan group from Congress who sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland asking the Department of Justice to take action against offshore sportsbooks.
- June 24, 2022 – Online lottery syndicate operator Jackpot.com could target Texas for launch after raising funding from the likes of Jason Robins and Michael Rubin.
- June 16, 2022 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Texas can’t block tribal-run e-bingo. The ruling could spark further change to Texas’ online gambling rules, per industry analysts.
- May 11, 2022 – BetMGM announced it is the exclusive Sports Betting Partner of the Houston Astros. This marks BetMGM’s first relationship in Texas.
Is sports betting legal in Texas?
Right now, there is no legal sports betting in Texas. Despite another push for it in 2021, the most recent sports betting bill failed to advance from committee in April 2021. Because the Texas legislative session only occurs during odd years, the next possible opportunity to make sports betting a reality through the legislature in the Lone Star State won’t happen until 2023.
The status of Texas sports betting
It’s not yet legal to bet on sports in Texas. However, Texas legislators are joining the growing ranks of US states considering legalizing sports betting as states search for new revenue sources to bolster their budgets.
Proponents of sports betting were unsuccessful in 2021. Political opposition in Texas often makes it quite complicated for the Lone Star State to legalize wagering on professional and college sports.
There is the possibility of a sea change in the political landscape in 2022, however. Texas continues to become a more bipartisan location as the years go by, and the dominance of the conservative pushback to gambling in the Lone Star State might be fading. When the 2023 legislative session returns, it is possible that lawmakers might sing a different tune.
In the meantime, professional sports teams including the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers could become partners with online sportsbooks. Austin FC of Major League Soccer announced a deal with PointsBet in September 2021. Fubo Gaming (Fubo Sportsbook) partnered with the Houston Dynamo in January 2022. Furthermore, two states that border Texas have legal sports betting. New Mexico has retail sportsbooks available at a select few tribal casinos, and Louisiana online sports betting is available alongside several in-person casino sportsbooks.
When will online sports betting launch in Texas?
It appears unlikely Texas will have legal sports betting before 2023. The Texas Legislature only meets in odd-numbered years, and the failure to legalize in 2021 means there will be a two-year wait.
Opposition to gambling expansion of any kind is baked into the legislative culture in Austin. Texans themselves are not particularly opposed to sports betting. A recent poll conducted by the University of Texas – Tyler found that 43% of Texans favor allowing sports betting in the state, and another 31% were ambivalent about the issue. Only 26% were outright opposed to it.
Perhaps most strikingly, these percentages were mostly consistent across different party lines — only white evangelicals had stronger opposition to expansion. Even then, only 44% of that group felt strongly enough to disagree with the introduction of sports betting. Incidentally, the same poll revealed that more than half of respondents favored the introduction of casino gambling to the state.
However, older citizens remain both the most likely group to vote and the most likely group to contribute to political causes. In Texas, this cohort tends to look unfavorably upon gambling. Thus, the minority of opposing voters in the Lone Star State tend to be the most vocal and have the resources to catch the ear of state politicians. It’s no accident that both Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have staunchly opposed gambling expansion during their time in office.
Texas politicians also receive substantial contributions from out-of-state casino interests. For instance, the Chickasaw Nation, which owns WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma (located roughly an hour north of the DFW Metroplex), has donated more than $15 million to political interests over the years — many of them in Texas.
So even though people seem to favor the exploration of sports betting in Texas, there are tremendous political hurdles to overcome before the subject can appear in front of voters themselves. At this point, the best indicator of a possible shift in the situation might be the outcome of the 2022 midterm elections.
Latest Texas sports betting news
TX sports betting bills
Gambling proposals are nothing new for the Texas Legislature. However, except for lottery initiatives and horse racing measures, none of them have ever made it out of committee.
With regard to sports betting, the presence of PASPA negated the need for any bills for more than 20 years. With the fall of PASPA in 2018, Texas lawmakers have been more emboldened to propose sports betting bills. Curiously, though, a short proposal did appear in the 2015 session, albeit without much effect.
Here is a recent history of sports betting bills considered by the Texas Legislature:
- HJR 97 (2021)
- HB 2070 (2021)
- HJR 68 (2021)
- SB 736 (2021)
- HB 1121 (2021)
- HJR 61 (2019)
- HB 4040 (2015)
Legal betting options in Texas
Texas is a large state with a large population, with an estimated headcount of 29.5 million. However, the state is limited in its legal forms of gambling and betting, but it is not completely devoid of options. Here is a breakdown of what is legal (or illegal) in Texas.
Right now, there are no legal ways to bet on sports in Texas.
There are a number of websites and apps that say they can accept bets from anywhere in the United States. Since there are no federally-regulated sports betting apps it’s easy to identify these websites as offshore unregulated operators.
Since there’s no US jurisdiction licensing these sportsbooks, there’s no guarantee US bettors will get their winning bets paid out. Some offshore sportsbooks have also closed operations without returning customer funds.
Commercial casino gambling is not permitted inside state lines. The only casino-like options are two tribal facilities in the state. The Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas has the only true casino in Texas, and its location in Eagle Pass (along the border with Mexico) renders it inconvenient for most Texans.
The other location is Naskila Gaming, an electronic bingo parlor located on the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe’s reservation near Livingston, Texas. This venue is the second attempt by the tribe to offer casino games on tribal grounds, and it has been under threat from the State of Texas since its debut in 2016.
It scored a major victory in federal court that goes a long way toward legitimizing the facility, but tribal leaders are already gearing up for an appeal from the state. The win could have an effect on gambling in Texas, as a third tribe — the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo — has been attempting to run its own venue in the El Paso area for many years.
The main form of gambling approved by the state is the Texas Lottery. Like many state lotteries, the agency offers both draw games and scratchers for play. The draw games include both Texas-only drawings and multistate games like Mega Millions and Powerball. There are no options for internet purchases — the lottery app only allows you to check your tickets and find retailers.
Horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering are legal in Texas. All betting must be completed onsite at one of the tracks in the state. Obviously, live races are scheduled to avoid the extremes of Texas weather. However, many tracks do offer simulcast racing and wagering year-round. Racetrack/simulcast facilities in Texas include:
- Gillespie County Fair and Festivals – Fredericksburg
- Lone Star Park – Grand Prairie
- Retama Park – Selma
- Sam Houston Race Park – Houston
Greyhound racing is still technically legal in Texas, but there are no locations with active racing in the state at this time. A few facilities do offer the opportunity to bet on simulcast greyhound races around the country, but concerns about humane treatment of the dogs continue to strangle greyhound racing as an institution across the US.
Finally, Texas is now home to many standalone poker clubs. If you’re wondering how this is possible, the clubs have figured out a way to tiptoe around the explicit exceptions to Texas gambling law. Poker is illegal under Texas law, but there are three conditions that, when used together, constitute a defense to prosecution. Essentially, the game must be in a private location, the players must all have an equal chance of winning, and no one outside of the game can profit from it. The clubs’ model is to charge for membership fees and time, instead of raking the pots.
So far, the Texas attorney general has declined to issue an opinion on the clubs’ legality and whether their dance through these defenses is valid. Recently, a state representative issued a new request for an opinion on the issue, so the matter is still not settled. But for now, Texas poker players can find places to play near their homes.
Most popular sports to bet on in Texas
Given Texas’ second overall rank in population and size, there’s no surprise the state has 11 professional sports teams. Those teams include three NBA teams, two NFL teams, two MLB teams, two MLS teams, a WNBA team and a National Women’s Soccer League team.
NFL betting in Texas
Given the excitement over just about every level of football in Texas it’s expected that NFL betting would reign supreme.
The Dallas Cowboys have one of the largest fanbases around the country including plenty of support throughout the state. Their home, AT&T Stadium, could also become one of the largest sportsbooks in the world if sports betting is allowed in a team’s stadium.
Texas also has the Houston Texans, which debuted in 2002 to fill the gap left by the Oilers, which moved to Tennessee.
NBA betting in Texas
Basketball betting is also sure to be popular with the state’s three professional NBA squads.
The teams have varying levels of popularity throughout the state. The San Antonio Spurs have been the least flashy Texas basketball team over the years but have five championships to their name, the most recent coming in 2015.
The Dallas Mavericks, led by outspoken owner Mark Cuban, won their only title in 2011.
There could be some issues down the line concerning betting on the Houston Rockets, especially if they have their own sportsbook operations. That’s because owner Tilman Fertitta, who owns a gambling empire of his own.
MLB betting in Texas
There are two Major League baseball teams that call Texas home. The Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers both compete in the American League.
The Astros have been the more successful baseball team in recent years, with a World Series win in 2017 and World Series appearances in 2019 and 2021. Regardless of the cloud of controversy surrounding the 2017 championship, there’s no denying that the Houston team has been the hotter of the Lone Star State’s top ballclubs.
However, the Rangers have had quite a bit of success on their own. The team in Arlington has appeared in two World Series in the past two decades.
NCAA betting in Texas
Betting on college sports will get plenty of attention should the enabling legislation allow NCAA betting.
Some schools that routinely appear in NCAA postseason games include the Baylor Bears, TCU Horned Frogs, Texas Longhorns, Texas A&M Aggies and Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Is daily fantasy sports legal in Texas?
At the moment, fantasy sports contests are in legal limbo in Texas. Before 2016, almost all DFS operators allowed users to play for real money at their sites. That all changed when Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion that said, in part:
“Under section 47.02 of the Penal Code, a person commits an offense if he or she makes a bet on the partial or final result of a game or contest or on the performance of a participant in a game or contest. Because the outcome of games in daily fantasy sports leagues depends partially on chance, an individual’s payment of a fee to participate in such activities is a bet. Accordingly, a court would likely determine that participation in daily fantasy sports leagues is illegal gambling ‘under section 47.02 of the Penal Code.”
While DraftKings and FanDuel initially released statements saying they disagreed with that opinion, things were quiet in the short term. Then came the revelation in March that FanDuel had been working on a settlement with Paxton; DraftKings decided to go its own way and fight the opinion in court.
An attempt to legalize DFS with a new law was not enacted in 2017. Since then, there haven’t been any serious efforts to make daily fantasy sports an acceptable activity in Texas.
Is it legal to play DFS for real money in Texas?
There appears to be no problem for DFS players who want to take part in DFS contests in the state.
Is it legal for DFS operators to take customers in Texas?
That’s a complicated question, but several sites do still accept players in the state. Some of the more prominent sites include:
DraftKings is the largest daily fantasy site that still accepts players from Texas for real money contests.
DraftKings is challenging the opinion issued by the Texas attorney general that DFS is illegal gambling under state law. It still accepts Texas residents for real-money contests.
FanDuel now serves the Texas market again with DFS contests as of 2018. Players in Texas can still play any DFS contests. FanDuel entered into a settlement with the Texas AG early in 2016 to avoid any possible legal issues down the road, but things have changed since FanDuel was acquired by Flutter Entertainment.
Texas sports betting FAQ
Who would oversee sports betting in Texas?
The enabling legislation would likely call for the creation of a regulatory board to oversee Texas sports betting, though regulation could be handed to the Texas Lottery as well.
What is the legal gambling age in Texas?
The various forms of gambling in Texas typically require patrons only to be 18. However, the lone full-service casino — a tribal location in Eagle Pass — requires players to be 21. The most recent attempt to legalize sports betting also specified that players would need to be 21.
Is it legal to bet on my phone in Texas?
No. Since all betting is currently illegal in Texas, there are no legal mobile sports betting apps available despite what they might say.
Any sportsbook offering to take bets from a bettor within Texas’ border is an offshore operator. These unregulated operations are risky for US bettors because there’s no guarantee their winning bets will be paid.