Legal Texas Sports Betting

Legal Texas sports betting and gambling laws are some of the least progressive in the United States. Almost from its inception as a state, all forms of gambling with the exclusion of small-stakes card games and horse racing were illegal in Texas. Gambling on sports was of course among the prohibited wagering activities. This situation represented the status quo from the early 1800s until the recent history, when the global rise of the internet enabled legal Texas sports betting for the first time.

The Lone Star State, which started out as its own independent country, shared little in common with the original 13 American colonies in terms of their predilection toward broad social acceptance of gambling. Texas’ historical aversion to gambling continued into the period of statehood in the middle of the 19th century, and in fact, did not change until well into the 20th century and even then more slowly than much of the rest of the United States. The incremental pace toward gambling reform in Texas, combined with aggressive federal moves to prevent the expansion of gambling has had the effect that legal sports betting in the Lone Star State can be considered difficult to impossible via conventional means.

However, the shifting trends in demographic makeup and political alignment from conservative to more liberal in recent decades have helped to slowly but surely expand the acceptance of gambling in Texas. Within the last thirty years, for instance, Texas lawmakers amended the state constitution to allow charitable gaming and instated what is now one of the most-played lotteries in the United States. Nevertheless, the real breakthrough for legal Texas sports betting has been the ascendancy of offshore gambling websites that exist outside the purview of federal and state law, providing a safe alternative to other legal means while sports fans wait on necessary political developments in the Lone Star State.

Texas Sports Betting And Gambling Laws

As we have already demonstrated at length, Texas’ sports betting prohibitions, and indeed its bans on most other kinds of real money betting​, are pervasive and long-standing. Most of the state’s anti-gambling laws (and the accompanying punishments for them) can be found in the amended Texas Penal Code, Section 47.01 – 47.10, which defines betting as any agreement “to win or lose something of value solely or partially by chance.” According to the law, bets do not include “prize(s), award, or compensation to the actual contestants in a bona fide contest for the determination of skill, speed, strength, or endurance or to the owners of animals, vehicles, watercraft, or aircraft entered in a contest.”

On the sports betting front, bookmaking is defined partly as “a scheme by three or more persons to receive, record, or forward a bet or an offer to bet.” The combination of federal laws against sports gambling, along with the state laws on winning prizes on contests based even partially on chance and the aforementioned ban on bookmaking, make legal Texas sports betting solely possible via offshore websites serving US customers.

Texas Sports Betting Sites

Texas is a huge state, second biggest behind Alaska in fact, but the best websites for legal Texas sports betting are going to be found far outside the borders of the Lone Star State. Texas criminal code doesn’t specifically outlaw online gambling, which gives sports betting aficionados the wiggle room they need to hop on over to the gambling sites like Bovada, MyBookie, SportsBetting, and BetOnline. All these websites, even though they’re based in places like the European Union or in Caribbean resort islands, are what makes legal Texas sports betting possible. Sports betting sites in Texas like Bovada are financially secure being that they are regulated by their home countries and they cater to American tastes in sports. Texans have always fiercely guarded their independence, so these top-level legal gambling websites should be just the ticket for sports fans.


Bovada Sportsbook

A Texas-Sized Online Sportsbook

The Lone Star State has no land-based casinos available for sports bettors in Texas to legally place bets. However, the lack of in-person betting has opened the door for many Texans to legally place their sports bet online at Bovada. The simplistic layout and competitive odds offered at Bovada are industry-leading. Texas sports bettors enjoy the convenience of having every line Bovada has to offer in the palm of their hands using a mobile phone, tablet, or laptop. Being able to place bets legally anywhere in Texas is why Bovada has been the go-to sportsbook in the state for decades.

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BetOnline Sportsbook

Texas Favorite Online Sportsbook

Sports bettors in Texas are lucky to have a legal online sportsbook like BetOnline available to them. Whether wanting to bet on the NFL, NBA, or MLB, BetOnline has a variety of betting lines and props available to Texans throughout the year. Since BetOnline operates outside of the US jurisdiction of law but this doesn’t mean that BetOnline will rip off users by not paying out winnings. The site always pays out and it’s 100% legal to use in Texas. If any problems arise for Texas sports bettors while using BetOnline, the site has a customer service team ready to assist through an easy-to-use help center. 

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MyBookie Sportsbook

The Lone Star State’s Best Pocket Sportsbook

Texans love their sports just as much as any other state in the US and MyBookie allows legal Texas sports betting players to bet on their favorite teams from anywhere at any time. MyBookie has betting lines, props, and futures for all major sports leagues not only in the US but across the globe. The convenience of an online sportsbook like MyBookie is what draws many sports bettors to it as they can access the entire arsenal of betting lines from their mobile devices. Even if not wanting to solely bet on sports MyBookie does offer politics and entertainment betting odds throughout the year.

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SportsBetting Sportsbook

Betting Lines For Any Texas Sports Bettor

Despite not having any land-based sports betting options Texas has a deep selection of legal online sportsbooks. SportsBetting has separated itself from the pack as a reliable site featuring a plethora of betting lines on all of the most popular major sports leagues. The live betting suite at SportsBetting is one of the site’s best features and the odds shift with action in the game providing a truly unique betting experience for Texas gamblers. Outside of that, SportsBetting offers promotions for new and existing members to choose from that will help bettors extend their bankroll. The mobile betting revolution hasn’t passed SportsBetting by.

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2021 Outlook For Legal Sports Betting In Texas

The Texas Legislature adjourns for 2021 on May 31 and sports betting proposals are still part of the package. There are four proposals to regulate a sports betting market in Texas in 2021. While two have seen more action than the others, it’s still slow going for any type of gaming expansion in the state. Texas requires a constitutional amendment to allow for a sports wagering industry to open as all gambling issues ask this of the legislature. House Bill 2070 and House Joint Resolution 97 are the most recent proposals to see movement in Texas, making them the favored two of the four bill proposals on the table.

House Bill 2070 calls for a constitutional amendment to make sports betting legal by constituent vote. This vote would take place in November with a law being enacted in January 2022 if residents are in favor of a legal sports betting market. TX HB 2070 would make retail and mobile sportsbooks legal in Texas, including having sportsbooks at professional sports team venues. There is a 10% tax rate set on all GGR with collegiate events open for bets. The last movement was on April 14 where it’s been left in the House for consideration but no date scheduled.

House Joint Resolution 97 would put the issue of sports betting on the ballot for voters in the state to decide. It’s asking for the constitutional amendment required to allow sportsbooks to open in Texas. If it sees passage, Texans would have a say on whether or not to open up a regulated sports gaming industry in the Lone Star State. The last movement was on April 14 where its awaiting a date in the House for a hearing.

House Bill 477 would classify sports betting as Class III gaming for which it is trying to legalize. Class II gaming is the only legal gaming available in Texas at the moment. It would only allow for retail-based sportsbooks at coastal establishments in the state. It had its first reading in the House on February 25 where it was referred to the House State Affairs Committee and has not moved since.

House Bill 1121 would be a strictly mobile sports betting industry with a cap of five mobile sports wagering operators. This is the easiest of all three bills to pass but it has a low tax rate on the revenue at 6.25%, a low cap on operators, and prohibits collegiate wagers. It was read in the House on March 4 and referred to the House State Affairs Committee where it has remained.

What Texas Sports Teams Can I Bet On?

Texas is practically overflowing with sports teams worth following, and indeed worth betting on. Some of these teams are among the most famous in all of American sports, but all of them enjoy the support of some of the world’s most ardent fans. Texans love sports, and the Lone Star State has plenty and then some.

Football is the king of sports in Texas and nowhere is that more evident than in the case of the Dallas Cowboys, known for decades by the appellation “America’s Team.” That level of support is backed up by some of the NFL’s most impressive stats, including over a half dozen Super Bowl and NFC championships appearances, and the unmatched distinction of 15 consecutive winning seasons from 1966 to 1985. It’s no wonder the Cowboys are one of the most valuable sports teams in the world, according to Forbes magazine.

The Houston Texans joined the NFL as Texas’ second pro team, replacing the now-defunct Houston Oilers, which moved to Tennessee and became the Titans of today, in 2002. The Texans have a long way to go before they’ll match Dallas’ prestige, but the NFL’s newest team has still pulled off impressive feats in that short time, including multiple AFC South championships.

On the baseball front, Texas’ teams are no slouch either, boasting the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros, both of which have competed in the World Series. Native Texan Nolan Ryan, certainly among the greatest pitchers to ever play professional baseball with more no-hitters to his credit than any other to take to the mound, played for both the Astros and the Rangers over the course of his impressively long-lived 27-year pro career.

Texas also boasts three NBA teams, the Dallas Mavericks, the Houston Rockets, and San Antonio Spurs, the latter of which has won some of the most championships and division titles in the league. All three Lone Star State pro hoops teams have achieved a good deal of success, however. The Rockets won two championships in the mid-‘90s and are known for having attracted past superstars like Charles Barkley, Tracy McGrady, and Yao Ming. The Mavs were a 2000s powerhouse, winning two division titles, two conference titles and an NBA championship during the tenures of stars Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, and Dirk Nowitzki.

There are more Division 1 NCAA teams across all sports in Texas than in any other state. Some of the biggest names in college athletics in the Lone Star State are the Baylor Bears, the University of Texas Longhorns, the Aggies of Texas A&M and, lately, the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs. Due to the sheer number of these programs and Texas’ population of 27 million, it’s easy to see how most of the state’s premier universities have had success across the decades, reinforcing the tradition of greatness that is the pride of Texas sports.

List Of Team Names

Dallas Cowboys (NFL) Houston Texans (NFL) Houston Astros (MLB)
Texas Rangers (MLB) San Antonio Spurs (NBA) Houston Rockets (NBA)
Dallas Mavericks (NBA) San Antonio Stars (WNBA) Dallas Stars (NHL)
FC Dallas (MLS) Houston Dynamo (MLS) Baylor Bears (NCAA)
TCU Horned Frogs (NCAA) Texas Longhorns (NCAA) Texas A&M Aggies (NCAA)

Where To Bet On Sports In Texas In 2021

State-sanctioned sports betting is not yet available for Texans in 2021 but there are still ways for sports bettors to legally gamble on any number of games worldwide. For the convenient option, there are plenty of online sportsbooks that are free to join and 100% safe and legal to use in Texas. These sites include Bovada, BetOnline, MyBookie, SportsBetting, and XBet. Although they do not offer downloadable applications, they can be accessed on any mobile device using a phone’s search engine to scroll through betting lines and place wagers.

For gamblers in search of the ambiance of a retail sportsbook, the closest places to drive to are Arkansas, Nevada, New Mexico, or Louisiana to get that sports betting fix. Neighboring states continue to legalize sports betting as we speak which will make for shorter drives to such places soon enough. Unless a vacation is in order, it is probably best to wager using the online platforms suggested rather than cross state lines on a long drive to simply get some action in on the games.

How To Bet On The Texas Longhorns In Texas

Texas is one of these states where college football is very popular. With the season back, bettors will be placing plenty of bets on the Longhorns, A&M Aggies, and more. Online sportsbooks like Bovada, BetOnline and others will have all the bets that players can think of. Without any local options, this will be the best way to bet the college football season.

Horse Race Betting In Texas

Pari-mutuel wagering is legal in Texas, and is easily the oldest legal form of gambling in the state. It was legalized all the way back in 1933. Despite the state’s hostility toward most forms of gambling, pari-mutuel wagering is widely accepted, perhaps because of the state’s long history of ranching and rodeos. Fans can bet on horse racing either at the track or through domestic online pari-mutuel platforms like TVG and Twin Spires. They can also bet with international online racebooks.

In late May 2020, Texas became the first state to reopen the tracks for fans after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. in March. Capacity is limited to 25% for the time being, but the Texas government seems to be relatively unified in its desire to return to normal as soon as possible. Many other states have already seen a surge of horse betting activity, so it wouldn’t be surprising for the sport to grow in popularity over the next several months. 

Daily Fantasy Sports In Texas

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) was declared to be illegal in 2016 by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on the grounds that DFS contains enough of an element of chance to be considered as prohibited gambling. Paxton’s opinion is that the skill involved in DFS – being that players have to use their knowledge of athlete statistics, relative coaching strategies, even the weather when choosing their lineups – doesn’t obviate the preponderance of chance in determining the outcome of contests. According to Texas law, only “partial chance” is necessary for an activity to be classified as gambling.

However, DFS giant DraftKings is challenging the opinion issued by the Attorney General in court. While the court case is pending, DraftKings has decided to still accept Texas residents for real-money contests. FanDuel has also decided to still accept residents as well, so even if current state officials don’t think you should join, they can’t necessarily stop you or penalize you.

Legal Texas Sports Betting FAQs

Can I Bet Real Money On Sports In Texas?

The only way to bet real money on sports in Texas is if you make use of offshore gambling websites that are licensed and reputable, and we’ve described the ones we believe are the best in those categories elsewhere on this page. Any attempt to wager money on sports using a local bookie, or even making use of a Texas-run online bookmaker, is going to be illegal according to state statute and federal law as well. Sticking with an offshore gambling website is the best option for fans of legal Texas sports betting who want to stay off the radar from the law.

Is Online Sports Betting Safe In Texas?

Again, online sports betting is only safe for Texans if they steer clear of websites based in Texas. Offshore websites like Bovada, 5Dimes, BetOnline, and SportsBetting are not just safe in terms of being able to securely process financial transactions, they’re also safe from any federal or state legal action that could be taken against a Texas sports betting fan. The Texas legislature has not passed any law directly outlawing placing bets over the internet, and thus far no resident of the state has ever been prosecuted for placing a wager at an offshore website like those listed above.

This just reinforces the point that legal Texas sports betting is best done at one of our preferred websites. The combination of reliability, financial security, options for American sports betting fans and the freedom that comes from operating outside the reach of the US legal system enables offshore websites to fill a niche and scratch an itch Texas players have for wagering on their favorite sports teams.

Will Sports Betting In Texas Ever Be Legal?

There are several factors at play before sports betting could be the law of the land in Texas. One huge positive is that the state legislature has not moved to make betting online specifically illegal, which opens up the world of legal Texas sports betting to Lone Star State enthusiasts if they stick to offshore websites. The road to broader legalization of sports gambling has been a slow one – the state only approved a constitutional amendment to allow charitable gaming in 1989 – but changing demographics in Texas may be a leading indicator of big changes to come.

An influx of blue-state workers looking to cash in on Texas’ booming industrial and financial economy and left-leaning immigrants from outside the state will undoubtedly have an impact on how the Lone Star State swings politically, and the rate at which this shift is occurring is accelerating. In time, this new political majority could push for legalization of sports gambling as a way to generate millions of dollars in new tax revenues every year.

Will I Get Arrested For Sports Betting In Texas?

We’ll put it this way, nobody has ever been prosecuted for placing a bet online at a reputable offshore sports betting website. So, while betting on sports via the internet is not protected by Texas law and certainly not by federal laws like the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, it isn’t expressly forbidden either.

By virtue of this legal gray area or loophole, offshore sports betting websites are able to offer their services securely to the American market. It’s important to consider the risks involved before physically placing a bet on sports anywhere in America that isn’t Las Vegas, which is why having the option of an overseas legal gambling website is such an appealing proposition for Texas bettors.

What Is the Sports Betting Age In Texas?

Since there is no legal outlet for sports betting in Texas outside of offshore gambling websites, 21 is the minimum age residents will need to attain before participating in the few wagering opportunities allowed by state law. Those few legal forms of gambling include horse racing, a single gambling cruise, which only entered the market after much controversy in 2015, and one casino in a remote section of the state which is a stone’s throw from Mexico. A state lottery has also been available since 1993, and Texas, interestingly, has the largest assortment of scratch-off tickets of any state in the country.

In all cases, you’ll need to be 21 before you can legally participate in what few forms of allowable gambling there is. Even though the offshore websites we recommend for legal Texas sports betting operate beyond the reach of federal and state law, and even though they will all take deposits from users as young as 18 (in accordance with the local laws of their home countries), it is still advisable that Texans don’t push their luck. Any amount of money you could earn from successfully picking winners is going to look like a paltry sum against a potential stint in the state pen.

Are There Mobile Sports Betting Apps Available In Texas?

All the best legal Texas sports betting websites have fully embraced smartphone technology and have their own entries in the app stores of both Apple and Android networks. The apps offered by Bovada, BetOnline, SportsBetting, and 5Dimes are free to download and most of them are models of ease-of-use. These websites are already simple to use, but the availability of free apps just adds another layer of convenience to what is easily the best means of betting on sports that Texans have access to.

Where Is The Best Place To Bet On Sports In Texas?

There are really only two places to legally bet on sports in Texas, and neither of them are actually in Texas. Confused? Don’t be. Choice one: to hitch a ride on the Aransas Queen gambling cruise and bet in international waters (and hope you can get your payout before you get back to shore, and that’s if the game you were watching wraps up before the ship returns to Texas waters). Choice two: to visit Bovada, SportsBetting, BetOnline or 5Dimes (or all of them) and enjoy some legal Texas sports betting online.

The second choice is going to be the best, generally speaking, because you can expect timely payouts, the convenience of betting anywhere, anytime, all without worrying over the legality of your pastime. The websites we list here are all reputable, reliable and regulated – but regulated in their own countries, and therefore outside the reach of federal or Texas law, which doesn’t specifically outlaw internet gambling anyway.

Is It Safe To Use A Local Bookie In Texas?

Any bookie doing business in the state of Texas is going to be doing so in flagrant violation of state law and also of federal law. It would not be worth your time to deal with a local bookmaker in Texas for that reason alone, because if you get caught you will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.

However, there really shouldn’t be any special reason you would want to use a local bookie. That’s because the best offshore online sportsbooks are going to have higher limits, be much more reliable, offer better odds on more types of sports contests and – best of all – they aren’t illegal according to state and federal law.

Do Any Casinos In Texas Have Sports Betting?

Texas might be a huge state with one of the nation’s largest populations to match, but there are only two casinos in the whole state. Sports betting is only on the menu at one of them, and even then, only under very specific circumstances. The Aransas Queen, a gambling yacht will take customers out into international waters before allowing some sports betting to take place, but the majority of practical betting options are going to be limited to slots and table games. The Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino in the rural border town of Eagle Pass is more or less a well-stocked slots parlor but a recently added poker room adds only a little variety for those willing to make the trek.

Can I Bet On Sports With My Friends In Texas?

For all its other restrictions on gambling, Texas law has a pleasant surprise in store for people who want to enjoy sports betting with friends. The state’s Penal Code, Section 47 has no punishment for social gambling, which means that betting of any kind can take place in private between players with a “legitimate social relationship,” and stakes can be as high as the players have a tolerance for it.

The reality is that Texas, with its vast geography and a population of more than 27 million people, is probably too big to enforce a law against anything people do in their own homes, but it’s nice to have such freedom inscribed in the legal rolls just to be sure. Of course, this means that using offshore legal Texas sports betting websites is also permitted by default, which is good for all gambling fans.

When Will Sports Betting Become Legal In Texas?

Sports betting in Texas has only been slightly discussed but with gaming operators creating partnerships ready for Texas sports betting, you can imagine it will come sooner than later. This market is way too big for legislators to ignore and they know they can heavily capitalize off of the tax revenue when it does become legal. In 2019, the state introduced a few measures that would have legalized sports betting (with the restriction of in-state collegiate bets) but it did not advance too far in the legislature. Expect Texas to offer sports betting in 2020 or 2021, as the state will not hold off for much longer.

How Many Sportsbooks Are In Texas?

As of now, there are no sportsbooks in Texas, however, players can still wager legally by the use of offshore betting sites. There are not many casinos in Texas and they are operated by the tribes and not commercial operators or the state. With this, you can expect these venues to offer sports betting in Texas as well as the implementation of an online platform. With a state as large as Texas, online sports betting will be the method that works the best so players can engage in the hobby from anywhere within the state.