Texas has over 30 million residents making this state the second most populous in the US. It might also interest you to know that one of the most popular poker games in the world – Texas hold ‘em – originated There. With this rich poker history, one might suppose the gambling sector in Texas was having a swell time. But the reverse is the case here.
Despite having a large population, the Texas gambling industry is struggling to survive. On the positive side, live poker games are booming in Texas, and dozens of card rooms have emerged in the past few years, but as you are about to learn, the poker rooms in Texas operate differently.
Several laws and regulations have affected the Texas gambling sector. This is because the Texan state government has declared an unspoken war on the gambling industry. These laws are being fiercely implemented within the state. Therefore, we have prepared this in-depth review of online poker in Texas.
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History of Texas Poker
In the early days, Texas was home to several vices – gambling houses, brothels, drug dens and so on. Following the US civil war, gambling became the most sought-after means of entertainment. Many ranch owners, cowboys, buffalo hunters and smugglers enjoyed the game greatly.
Even after the banning of alcohol in the 1920s, gambling and drinking continued “underground.” To revive its economy after the great depression, Texas legalized parimutuel betting on horse races in 1933.
In 1980 and 1991, voters approved charitable gambling and the Texas lottery respectively. Even though gambling was banned again in 1987, the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino opened in 1996 and offered casino games. The Kickapoo-based casino is still in operation to date. It was rebuilt and further expanded in 2004. Currently, this iconic center is not just the most popular casino in Texas but also a legalized venue where poker lovers can have a great game.
By a stroke of luck in 2015, a loophole in the state’s gambling laws presented a way for several local poker clubs to begin operating in Texas. The situation was such that groups could be created for interested gamers who contributed membership dues. These dues could range from $5 to $20 daily; other centers charged dues per hour and even monthly or annually.
As you can see, Texas has a long history with the game of poker. In fact, some of the game’s most famous historical figures, like the original players in the World Series Poker, such as Doyle Brunson and Amarillo Slim, started out by playing backroom poker games throughout Texas. Today, the online version will undoubtedly expand the game’s horizons by moving the fun out of the casinos and card rooms into the player’s pocket.
Is Online Poker Legal in Texas?
Understandably, poker players want to be sure whether online real-money poker games are legal in the state. Here are the details.
According to (Section 47.01(1)) the definition of betting is:
“The act of agreeing to an activity where losing or gaining… is dictated mainly or partially by chance.”
Therefore, a bet is anything containing any element of chance. Contained in the same section 47.01(4)), the laws of Texas also refer to a gaming device as any electronic gadget where items could be won by chance.
Despite these laws, an argument could still be made that online poker in Texas is not mentioned outright. Given some of these nebulous areas of the law, it is hard to conclude that online poker has been declared legal or illegal in the Lone Star State. In support of the argument that online poker is legal within Texas, is the fact that the land-based casinos in the state offer poker. None of these houses has been prosecuted for doing so.
We expect you want to remain a law-abiding citizen. In that case, you can head to the world-famous Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino situated at Eagle Pass, Texas. You can play live poker at this casino to your heart’s content. If you are adventurous, you can play at online sites hosted outside Texas.
When Will Online Poker Be Legalized in Texas?
As we already mentioned, Texas has some very strict laws against gambling. It is estimated that a whopping $2.5 billion leaves Texas for other states annually, destined for out-of-state-casinos. And this is likely to continue because there are no plans to legalize online poker in Texas.
The Texan state’s lawmakers are not pushing for legislation on this matter. As hopeless as this situation might sound, things might still turn in favor of the online poker lovers of Texas. After all, in 2018, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that disallowed most states from offering legal sports betting. However, you should not expect this miracle to take place anytime soon because there are no pro-online poker bills in discussion currently.
Gambling Laws in Texas
The Lone Star State is very strict with gambling. The state laws prohibit gambling activities such as slot machines, cards, lottery, races, and table games. According to Penal Code §47.02, a person can be prosecuted for gambling if they
- place a bet for money or any other valuable item at any dice, card or ball game;
- wager an odd on the partial or total outcome of a contest or the performance of the contestants;
- place a wager on the outcome of an appointment or on the degree of success attainable by any candidate.
As stated in Penal Code 47.03, gambling is a Class A misdemeanor, and it attracts a penalty of a year’s jail term and a fine of $4,000.14. Also, in the state laws, there are provisions for positive defense against prosecution if
- the gamer performed the gaming activity while lodged in a private area;
- no individual obtained any economic profit besides personal winnings;
- besides the advantage of skill or luck, the chances of winning or losing were similar for all the participants;
- if the individual believes his actions were supported by chapters 2001, 2002 and 2004 occupations codes.
Horse and Dog Racing in Texas
Despite these numerous restrictions, gambling laws permit residents of the state to participate in horse and dog racing. The game organizer only needs to procure a license from the state officials before the race can be held. These sorts of races and the state lottery games are referred to as parimutuel wagering because the payouts which are eventually distributed to gamers are obtained from pooling all the bets together.
More than anything, Texas laws are explicitly against keeping an apartment or other building as a gambling place. There are some exceptions provided for bingo and lingo gaming. Poker gaming houses are also not supposed to exceed the national limit of $100,000 with over 30 participants. Besides these, casino houses are illegal and violate the general state gambling codes. If casinos are not legal in Texas, it means the games found in casinos are illegal too. So real-money blackjack, craps, roulette, slots, and video poker are all illegal in Texas. In Native American lands, however, the laws allow at least one legal casino to operate.
Can I Play Online Poker in Texas?
Real-money poker and other similar games are in the “no man’s land” as far as Texas state laws are concerned. We say this because two major state casinos offer poker games (Lucky Eagle and Naskila casinos). Also, many cruise boat casinos offer poker around the Lone star state.
The state has done little in the past to curtail the growth of real and virtual online games. We can infer then that since the state has done nothing in the past to prosecute these land-based poker operations, it would likely not harm online poker gamers either.
Who Regulates Online Poker in Texas?
Since online poker in Texas happens to be in the gray area without proper legislative coverage, there are no regulatory bodies operating.
Some of the very powerful stakeholders in the state do not wish to permit any sort of gambling expansion. This group comprises both sitting lawmakers and relevant voting blocs in Texas. However, due to the opening of many private poker clubs, there is a bit of hope for the poker community. If these clubs can convince the elite governing body that poker would be of no threat to law and order, the idea of online poker might take off. But don’t count on it happening soon!
How Do Real-Money Online Poker Casinos Operate?
Real-money online casinos are websites where gamers can place bets on poker games. They are simply an online version of traditional poker casinos. However, these online poker sites offer far more gaming options and gaming flexibility. Online casinos allow people to play and wager on casino games through the internet at any time and from anywhere. Players can find poker, blackjack, slot, baccarat, roulette and craps on these sites. Like traditional casinos, online real money casinos offer bonuses and prizes to gamers. You have to deposit some amount of money before you can participate in the games or earn real money.
Some of the Real-Money Online Poker Sites Serving Texas
1. Ignition Poker
Ignition poker is an offshoot of the Bovada poker casino. Ignition was set up in 2016 to provide a rich poker gaming experience for the US market. As their name suggests, this online poker casino ignites players with 200% on top of their first deposit up to a maximum of $1,000. They offer players numerous payment options, crypto bonuses and there is lots of player traffic.
It is one of the best online poker sites for Texas residents because it is a very US-friendly site. The withdrawal time is fast, and the site has great customization features, fantastic welcome offers, and a user-friendly interface. You have to make a deposit before you can view the tables on the site.
2. Everyday poker
If you are concerned about the safety of real-money poker sites, then Everyday poker should be one of your go-to options. The online poker room holds a gambling license from the government of Curacao. If you play online poker games at this casino, not only are you given a 200% bonus on your first deposit, but you can also choose a game from many tournament options.
3. Americas Card Room
Even though the withdrawal fees for all non-crypto transactions are higher, Americas Card Room is one of the best online poker sites there is. The site has been running since 2001 and has tons of online poker games with incredible welcome bonuses. The withdrawal process on this site is a breeze, and many cryptocurrencies are supported on the platform. Because this site is very friendly to US gamers from Texas, it is a great idea to register for real-money games here.
4. Black Chip Poker
This casino gives new players a 100% match bonus of up to $1.000. Black Chip casino has been in the online poker arena since 2018. Their software is very user-friendly, and they offer interesting promotions.
How Do Sweepstake Online Casinos Operate?
Sweepstake casinos are another avenue for poker lovers to enjoy a game without fear of prosecution. Because of the method of operation in these casinos, they are legal throughout the US and in Canada too. Sweepstake casinos are growing in popularity because of this.
The simple principle that these casinos use is called the sweepstake model. The model has three prominent components:
- gamers do not sign up by depositing real monies
- players are given sweep coins when they buy gold coins
- players can win cash prizes after playing with sweep coins
So, if you want to be law-abiding in your online poker gaming, sweepstake casinos are the way to go.
Best Online Poker Sites for Texas Sweepstakes
1. Global Poker
Global Poker is one of the most renowned sweepstake poker sites online. It is a great option for residents of the Lone Star State looking to play online poker legally. As far as safety is concerned, Global Poker is licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority. Global Poker offers tons of tournament series, creating many opportunities for players to win massively in cash and gift cards. Upon registration, you get gold coins and sweep coins. You can play with the sweep coins to earn more from the site.
2. Lucky Land
This reputable casino welcomes new players with 7,777 gold coins and a bonus of 10 sweep coins upon sign-up. You can then get a $10 Gold Coin package, including 50,000 gold coins, for just $4.99. This is about the smallest sign-up deposit available on any online poker site. You can also be assured of fast and secure cash payouts when you win prizes. Just being a member of Lucky Land rewards you with free gold coins each time you log in. They also offer 24/7 customer support.
At Pulsz online poker site, everyone who signs up is credited with free gold and sweep coins with which to kickstart their gaming experience. Each new gamer receives 5,000 gold coins and 2.3 sweep coins. You will automatically be selected for an additional bonus when you purchase gold coins. You can choose either
16,125 Gold Coins + 15 free Sweepstakes Coins at 9.99USD
38,250 Gold Coins + 30 free Sweepstake Coins at 19.99USD.
How To Play Poker for Money Online in Texas
1. Perform thorough research on the available sites and select a site where you can play based on the outcome of your research.
2. Sign up for a free account using your real information. You might be tempted to use fake information due to the fear of identity theft online, but do not fall for the temptation. You should use your original details so that nothing will prevent you from getting paid in the future. Payment problems can arise if the casino is unable to verify the information you used during your account registration. Have copies of a driver’s license, utility bill and debit card handy before registration.
3. Verify the viability of the site by playing games for free before making your cash deposit. Most online real-money casinos offer free cash games and tournaments; take advantage of these to experience gaming on the site first-hand.
4. Ensure you read and understand the T&Cs on the site before playing. Sometimes the betting requirements are so stressful that the prize is just not worth the stress.
5. Make a deposit for your new account.
6. Play your favorite poker games and cash out your winnings.
How To Select the Best Real-Money Online Poker Casinos
Whenever you are choosing a real-money online poker casino, pay critical attention to the following:
We cannot overemphasize the relevance of a casino’s reputation. If you register with licensed, certified, and regulated casinos, they will operate fairly because they have a name to protect. Some fraudulent sites can claim that you violated casino terms and conditions. Others can even say that their software malfunctioned, and so you did not really win a game all in a bid to avoid paying out your money.
- Terms And Conditions
It is not enough for a site to offer glamorous bonuses and promotions; their T&Cs have to be reasonable too. New players often hurry to sign up for attractive offers of free spins, sweep coins, VIP rewards, deposit bonuses, and so on, but soon find that the terms are unmanageable. Seriously consider this point before signing up to any site.
- Banking Methods
Different online casinos accept specific deposit and withdrawal methods. Some casinos, such as Ignition, give a bonus when your deposit is in bitcoin. Keep this in mind when selecting a casino. Read customer reviews to find out if payments and withdrawal processing on the site is secure, convenient and fast.
- Customer Support
If you remain a committed online poker gamer long enough, you will need the help of the customer support team at some point. So, sign up to a site where the customer support team is not just knowledgeable about every aspect of the site but can be accessed 24/7
Online Poker Texas FAQs
Is online poker legal in Texas?
Online poker remains officially illegal in the state. However, you can play poker at sites that are hosted outside Texas.
Is real-money online poker legal in Texas?
No! Online real-money poker games are illegal in Texas
What will happen if I play poker at an illegal site?
The site could simply disappear one day, and you would not be able to trace them or your deposited funds.
What is the PokerStars site about?
This site allows residents of the Lone Star State to play games for virtual currencies. You cannot win real cash or other prizes on this site; it’s simply a way of having fun with family or friends.
When will online poker be legal in Texas?
As of now, there is no hope of this happening soon. The legislature has not considered or spoken of legalizing online poker.
How much should I wager at real-money games?
Try to keep real-money gaming as what it is – a source of entertainment and relaxation. You should never defer from this rule. One of the most terrible things a player can do is a wager with money they can’t afford to lose.
What sort of payment methods do betting sites accept?
Reputable betting sites accept many regional, national and international payment methods. Although the options vary from casino to casino, most sites accept bank transfers, debit and credit cards, prepaid cards, cryptocurrencies and e-wallets.