Texas Sports Betting Laws
At the federal level, Texas is bound by the same laws as almost every other state in the country. The Wire Act, PASPA, and the UIGEA all apply, though Texas goes another step further with its sports betting laws, banning the practice – both online and offline – throughout the entire state.
Most of these state-wide prohibitions are covered under Texas Penal Code Chapter 47 (Gambling), with §47.02(a)(1) explaining the limits specifically. This section covers sporting events, individual athletic performances, political nominations and elections, and card- and table-based betting “for money or other things of value.”
But the law isn’t ever that open-and-shut, is it? The reality in Texas, as it is in most other states, is that online sports betting laws are unenforced en masse because there is simply not enough manpower or governmental wherewithal to prosecute every Tom, Dick, and Mary that hops online to throw down some action on the Cowboys. As such, there are several excellent legal betting sites for Texans to choose from.
Federal Laws That Impact Texas Sports Betting
There are three federal laws that impact Texas sports betting: The Wire Act of 1961, which forbids using electronic communications to place bets between states; the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), which outlaws gambling on athletic contests; and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) which penalizes financial institutions for knowingly facilitating the exchange of money earned from Internet-based gambling activities.
However, each of these laws only penalizes those who take bets, not those who make them. In this way, much of the federal regulations that seem to make sports betting so difficult across America actually just push that $500 billion business overseas (by way of the Internet) where legal Texas sports betting sites – as well as those for all the other states – are not burdened by US law. It is primarily due to this lost taxable revenue that the US is rethinking its policies on sports betting and gambling in general.
What Is PASPA?
PASPA, or the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, is an anti-sports-gambling federal law that went into effect in 1992. Ostensibly designed to “protect” the “integrity” of mainstream industrial sport, the law garnered tremendous support from professional US sports leagues and their affiliates.
In particular, then-commissioner of the NBA David Stern called sports gambling “a national problem” whose “interstate ramifications...are a compelling reason for federal legislation.” The advertised idea was that, by making sports betting illegal, there would be no impetus for athletes or referees or other officials to accept bribes to throw games. Heh.
At the time the law went into effect, only four states fit the criteria for exemption via PASPA’s grandfather clause: Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon. Of these four, only Nevada currently offers comprehensive sportsbook action. (Ironically, PASPA was explicitly designed to allow a fifth state’s exemption, but New Jersey pulled a New Jersey and fumbled the year-long window they were given to implement sports betting. They’ve been actively fighting the law ever since.)
What Is The Game Act?
The Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act, or GAME Act, is a current legislative proposal written with the explicit intent to repeal PASPA. Unveiled by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the GAME Act is sponsored and spearheaded by New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone, and it comprises one point of a multipronged attack that the representative’s state has been engaged in as it tries to upend PASPA.
The GAME Act not only seeks a PASPA repeal, it actually further attempts to clarify and modernize the definitions of gambling and of those actions and avenues that constitute the pastime. In its new glossary of terms, the GAME Act leaves no doubt that lotteries, sports wagers, fantasy sports, eSports, and the like are all included under the “gambling” umbrella. Further, the proposed law also attempts to clarify “items of value,” specifically mentioning cryptocurrency solutions that pervade the current offshore sportsbook scene.
Keep in mind, the GAME Act will not legalize sports betting in any specific state; it merely removes the federal prohibition and allows individual states to decide for themselves whether or not to allow sports betting inside their borders. As of right now, it is unclear whether or not PASPA’s repeal would allow legal Texas sports betting sites to operate on state land.
Is Online Sports Betting Legal In Texas?
Technically, both sports betting and online betting are illegal in Texas. The operative part of the Texas Penal Code for sports betting is §47.02(a)(1), which states that “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.”
Texas Attorney General Opinion No. DM-344 addresses the online aspect, debunking (for legal purposes) the claim that a person placing a bet online in his or her own home does so in a “private place” and is therefore exempt per the “social gaming” carve-outs in §47.02(b)(1-3). Since private homes connect to publicly available servers or service providers for the purpose of placing bets, such home-based origins do not qualify as sufficiently private in the totality of the act.
Mobile Sports Betting Apps For Texas Bettors
While there are no mobile sports betting apps for Texas bettors on Apple’s or Google’s official marketplaces, smartphone and tablet users can enjoy a mobile optimized experience with their favorite offshore sportsbooks.
Bovada, BetOnline, SportsBetting, and 5Dimes, as the top legal Texas sports betting sites around, each offers a completely optimized on-the-go experience. With user interfaces designed around speed and at-a-glance, one-touch betting, these “web apps” provide a dedicated mobile experience. Just go to the mobile version of your sportsbook of choice, save the landing page to your home screen, and you’ve got a shortcut to all the portable betting action you can handle.
What Is The Legal Age To Gamble In Texas
While there are different thresholds for different game types, the legal age to gamble in Texas is 21. Yes, you only have to be 18 years old to play the state lottery or bet on dog and horse racing, but for land-based casinos and poker rooms, 21 is the minimum.
Of course, there is nothing in Texas’ law books about age limits for online sports betting or online poker in particular, as they are supposedly illegal by both state code and AG opinion. That said, participants are rarely (if ever) prosecuted, and it remains a reasonably risk-free pastime (beyond the inherent gambling risk, that is). Still, it is best to align yourself with the law as much as possible, so sticking to 21 years old is definitely the best plan.
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Texas Sports Betting FAQ's
Are online sportsbooks safe to use if you live in Texas?
Yes. While online sports betting is illegal in Texas by most reasonable interpretations, there is no real danger of being arrested for wagering via online sportsbooks. In addition to featuring top-level data security for their end-users, offshore sportsbooks like Bovada, BetOnline, SportsBetting, and 5Dimes also offer alternative payment methods like Bitcoin, which will help you maintain your privacy even more.
Also, it is important to take into account the sheer magnitude that enforcing such a law would actually be for a state as big as Texas. There is simply no way for the state government to effectively police the Internet activities of some 28 million people, and they know this. As long as you don’t make a public production of your online sports betting, there is almost no chance that you’ll ever get in trouble for participating in the popular pastime. So even if these legal Texas sports betting sites operate in a sort of gray area, you’ll always see their lines in black and white.
Has anyone been arrested for sports betting in Texas?
Certainly. However, such arrests are few and far between, and they are always predicated on deeper involvement in gambling or bookmaking businesses. Generally speaking, individual sports bettors are at almost no risk for arrest in Texas. However, active participants in the business of illegal gambling rings are a frequent target of state and federal authorities.
Obviously, your risk of being arrested for sports betting in Texas is quite low if you do not seek to place your bets in person. That’s why it’s in your best interest to limit your activity to legal Texas sports betting sites like Bovada, BetOnline, SportsBetting, and 5Dimes.
What should I do if my bank didn't process my credit or debit card deposit?
If your bank fails to process your credit or debit card deposits for your online sportsbook of choice, there are two possible avenues of action. The first thing to do is simply wait – it can take up to 10 business days for the transaction to go through.
Unfortunately, many banks have restrictions on purchasing credits for legal Texas sports betting sites. In these instances, it is best to explore an alternative method of deposit. Luckily, each site offers several different deposit types, including wire transfers, personal checks, money orders, Bitcoin, and more.
What is the best way to fund your sports betting account?
For legal purposes, the best way to fund your sports betting account is via cryptocurrency. Bitcoin in particular is very good for use at legal Texas sports betting sites, as it is difficult to trace and maintains almost complete user anonymity. This level of privacy and security is simply not possible with more traditional methods.
That said, Bitcoin comes with its own risks, as the product is volatile. The world is still adjusting to the realities of cryptocurrencies and getting used to their unique qualities and limitations. In most cases, Bitcoin will appreciate in value quite a lot faster than fiat money (which rarely ever appreciates at all), allowing bettors to essentially “win twice.” Of course, the opposite can also be true, and rapid depreciation could turn your winnings into losses overnight.
Do Online Sports Betting Sites Have Odds On Cowboys Football?
Do they ever! As one of the most popular sports teams on the entire planet, the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys get more than their fair share of online sports betting. It is not a stretch to say that a billion dollars or more is bet on the Cowboys alone each year. And as a deep playoffs favorite, that number can only go up.
But Texas has more than just the Cowboys. Legal Texas sports betting sites offer action on a number of Lone Star State teams. The San Antonio Spurs are a perennial favorite, and the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Houston Texans, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, Dallas Stars, Texas Longhorns, and Texas A&M Aggies are all popular choices. Aside from California, Texas is the richest sports betting state in the country.
What is live betting?
Live betting is exactly what it sounds like: live betting. In other words, it is a type of betting that continues as the sporting event in question goes on. With traditional betting, once a sports bet is placed, the bettor simply sits back and watches the game, waiting for the final score to determine a bet’s success or failure.
With live betting at your legal Texas sports betting site of choice, there are many more opportunities during the course of a game to place bets, and the odds are constantly changing to reflect what has happened up to that point in a given game. Because the odds can change so rapidly, it is best to use your sportsbook’s “quick bet mode” to ensure you get exactly the action you’re after. Live betting is also known as in-game or in-play betting.
Do legal Texas online sportsbooks have live betting?
Yes! All of the major sports on tap in Texas have a comprehensive and engaging menu of live betting wager types. The NBA and NHL lend themselves extremely well to live betting, as the games are fluid by nature, and each in-game event – from penalties to injuries to streaks to cold spells – will have an effect on the moneyline and various prop bets in play.
That said, the NFL is the most bet-on league in America, and its selection of live bets reflects that. After three quarters, is Dak Prescott on pace to break the single-game total yardage record for quarterbacks? Lay down your bet, and if he wins, you win. The same is true for baseball. If only the MLB had live betting for those 14 years that the Ryan Express bulldozed its way through Texas!
Can I have more than one online sportsbook account?
Absolutely, albeit with the caveat that you should only have one online account per online sportsbook. In the Internet betting business, it is generally against a given company’s terms of service to have more than one active account per user.
However, since legal Texas sports betting sites like Bovada, BetOnline, SportsBetting, and 5Dimes all offer different lines and different bet types, it makes good sense to have an account at two or more of them. Additionally, you’ll get different perks with each provider, and your sign-up bonuses will also vary site to site. Bet early, and bet often!
Betting On Horse Racing In Texas
Horse racing venues constitute the original legal Texas sports betting sites, and the state allows pari-mutuel betting both on- and off-track. Simulcast betting ensures that no matter where you are, you can always bet on the ponies in Texas. Of course, the state’s ample physical sites mean you can pretty much do that, anyways.
While Manor Downs, Texas’ oldest horse track, closed recently, Grand Prairie’s Lone Star Park remains a large attraction, offering a family-friendly, amusement-oriented venue featuring a 15-acre fun park. Retama Park, Sam Houston Race Park, the Gillespie County Race Track, and Valley Race Park round out Texas’ racetrack offerings.
The Status Of Daily Fantasy Sports In Texas
Daily Fantasy Sports, or DFS, is a hotly-contested topic in the Lone Star State. For now, it is legal for Texas residents to participate in DFS, but on the operators’ end, its legal status is not so clear. Though DFS is not explicitly illegal by Texas statute, state AG Ken Paxton writes in Opinion No. KP-0057 that it is the opinion of the state that DFS constitutes “illegal gambling.”
Because of Paxton’s opinion, FanDuel no longer does business in the state and will not take Texas residents as customers. However, FanDuel’s larger rival, DraftKings, still does business in the state as it legally challenges the AG’s opinion. Yahoo and FantasyDraft, while not as large as their top competitors, also continue to operate in Texas.