Is sports betting legal in Texas?

Right now, there is no legal sports betting in Texas. After HB 1942 made it through the House during the 2023 legislative session, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the bill would not receive consideration from the Senate. Patrick’s stance effectively ended any hope for legal sports betting in the state in 2023. The session adjourned on May 29 and the next session will not be held until 2025.

The status of Texas sports betting

It’s not yet legal to bet on sports in Texas. However, Texas legislators and citizens are joining the growing ranks of US states considering legalizing sports betting. Sports betting bill HB 1942 was introduced during the Texas legislature on February 6, 2023 and had the backing of major sports teams in the state.

A resolution proposing a constitutional amendment (HJR 102), which placed the question of legalizing sports betting on the ballot in November, passed through the House with a 100-43 vote during the 2023 session. However, Lt. Gov. Patrick exercised his power as president of the Senate in Texas to stop the resolution before the Senate could vote on it. That came despite bipartisan support for both HJR 102 and HB 1942 in the House. Patrick claimed to have taken the pulse of Senators before throwing cold water on the issue. “We don’t waste time on bills without overwhelming GOP support,” he tweeted.

Texas continues to become a more bipartisan location as the years go by, and the dominance of the conservative pushback to gambling may eventually fade. However, Republicans currently hold small majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives following the November 2022 election. The governor and lieutenant governor of Texas are also Republicans, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick threw cold water on the idea of expanded sports betting in the state while Gov. Greg Abbott has voiced his opposition to legalizing in the past.

Furthermore, 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 state tend to be the most vocal and have the resources to catch the ear of state politicians.

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.

In the meantime, professional sports teams including the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks and Texas Rangers could become partners with online sportsbooks and have voiced their support for legalization. Austin FC of Major League Soccer announced a deal with PointsBet in September 2021. And in 2022, Fubo Gaming (Fubo Sportsbook) partnered with the Houston Dynamo, the Houston Astros partnered with BetMGM, and Rush Street (BetRivers) joined forces with the Frisco Fighters. In December 2022, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban became the first Texas team owner to publicly state his desire to partner with a casino if the state legalizes sports betting. Mark Cuban said in an email to LSR that he sees online sports betting in Texas as less interesting than resort and casino legislation that could turn Texas into a larger entertainment destination.

There also appears to be considerable interest from Texans themselves in legalizing sports betting as a poll conducted during the last legislative session in 2021 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. Those numbers were consistent across party lines.

Incidentally, the same poll revealed that more than half of respondents favored the introduction of casino gambling to the state.

Two states that border Texas also have legal sports betting — which could put a little pressure on Texas legislators. New Mexico has retail sportsbooks available at a select few tribal casinos, and Louisiana sports betting is available online alongside several in-person casino sportsbooks.

When will online sports betting launch in Texas?

At this point, it is unclear when or if online sports betting will be coming to Texas. If made legal, online sports betting would likely come as a piece of a more extensive sports betting legislative expansion before offering online sports betting promotions. The earliest that could happen now appears to be 2025 as the Texas Legislature only meets in odd-numbered years.

What’s happening in Texas sports betting right now

Latest Texas sports betting news

Texas 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:

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.

Sports betting

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.

Casino gambling

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.

Texas Lottery

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 betting

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:

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.

Poker games

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.

Golf betting in Texas

The Longhorn State is home to a number of PGA events, including the Valero Texas Open and the AT&T Byron Nelson. Additionally, the infamous WGC Match Play event has been held at the Austin Country Club, which held its last event in March 2023. Two of the top players in the PGA, Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth, played at the University of Texas. They are both in contention to win at The Open Championship this year.

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 Texas

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 Texas

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.