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Surprisingly enough, real money poker’s most famous variant brandishes the name of a state with very limited legal real cash poker gambling options. Yes, the Lone Star State may have given rise to Texas Hold’em poker and the iconic Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson poker betting pro, but it’s proven far from proactive with regards to gambling expansion, particularly in regards to online poker at Internet poker legislation.

To date, Texas features exactly one live real money poker room. Given TX’s sheer size and dense population, that’s not exactly saying much for their poker gambling residents. Making matters worse, Texas’ gambling statues are generally intolerant of unregulated poker gambling behavior. Which leads us to believe that Texas stands a below average chance of entering the iGaming real money lawful Internet poker market anytime soon.

But there is hope, as one of online poker’s biggest proponents and believer in all things Internet poker related hails from none other than Texas.

Lone Star state gamblers won’t have much trouble signing up for one of our online real money US poker site accounts.

Texas Rep. Joe Barton Leads Internet Poker Push

Quick Jump

  • 5 The Facts
In July 2013, Rep. Joe Barton – a Republican from Texas – introduced HR 2666. Otherwise known as the Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013[1], the legal poker websites bill would effectively facilitate the growth of real cash online poker websites on a state-by-state basis sans Federal government intervention. The Internet poker gambling only act would also classify the American pastime of games like Texas Hold’em poker as a betting game of skill, as per the landmark United States v. DiCristina case.

Barton’s proposal calls for poker website gambling operators to abide by a strict set of regulations and guidelines, many of which are designed to protect player interests. For example, minors and players who choose to self-exclude themselves from legal real money poker betting would be prohibited from playing, as would those trying to log in from a state exempt from the proposed real cash Internet poker bill.

Although Barton’s previous poker website proposals have failed to gain momentum in Congress, it appears that the Internet Poker Freedom Act is garnering the attention of several influential figures in the Internet gambling world. The bill’s newfound respect is largely due to the efforts of long-time online poker websites advocate and Poker Player Alliance Executive Director John Pappas and American Gaming Association’s Geoff Freeman. Both were said to make compelling pro-iGaming Internet poker arguments at The State of Online Gaming hearing, which took place in December 2013 [2].

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Can Players From Texas Play Online Poker?

Overall, the vast majority of online poker websites that accept players from the United States are welcoming to those residing in the Lone Star State. That being said, some legit US-facing Internet poker websites offer better depositing bonuses and action then others. Which is why we’ve hand-selected the very best online poker real money Internet poker websites just for you. So save yourself the trouble of scouring the Internet in search of great sites to do your Internet poker gambling at: We’ve done the busy work so you don’t have to.

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Is Online Poker Legal In Texas?


Texas’ outdated gambling and betting statues criminalize the act of communicating gambling or poker betting information, which could indirectly apply to the Internet poker websites issue. However, the TX real cash poker law seems to apply only to poker gambling operators, and not players:

  • A person commits an offense if, with the intent to further gambling, he knowingly communicates information as to bets, betting odds, or changes in betting odds or he knowingly provides, installs, or maintains equipment for the transmission or receipt of such information. Section 47.05

Furthermore, TX state’s statutes make no mention of online poker or Internet poker websites. But in order to grasp the full breadth of the real money gambling law, one must first understand how the state defines gambling. It begins with the meaning of bet, defined as:

  • An agreement to win or lose something of value, including real cash, solely or partially by chance. Section 47.01(1)

Certainly, real money poker would be included under the scope of this broad definition, as anyone who’s been on the wrong side of a coin-flip in a Texas Hold’em poker game can attest.

The term bet is then wielded in the over-arching definition of gambling according to TX betting laws:

  • A person commits an offense if he: (1) 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; (2) makes a bet on the result of any political nomination, appointment, or election or on the degree of success of any nominee, appointee, or candidate; or (3) plays and bets for money or other thing of value at any game played with cards, dice, balls, or any other gambling device. Section 47.02

That’s a fairly all-encompassing definition of real money betting; far more comprehensive than most state’s poker gambling laws. It would certainly be difficult to find ways to circumvent the law, should you be caught for illicit poker gambling activity.

Texas does make notable exceptions for those participating in social gambling activities like casual home real money poker games, such that players who engage in gambling in a private place, do not receive economic benefit other than personal winnings and except for the advantage of skill or luck, the risks of losing and chances of winning were the same for all participants. In other words, playing real cash poker at a private home game in TX that doesn’t charge a house fee or take a rake seems to be an acceptable poker gambling practice.

The penalties for being caught gambling in Texas aren’t intuitively clear, only stating that an offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor. We’re guessing that’s the worst penalty anyone can receive other than a Class D misdemeanor. As expected, Gambling Promotion, (or operating a poker gambling or real money betting facility) carries harsher penalties, up to but not including a Class A misdemeanor. Notably, participation in Texas’ underground poker gambling industry is not felony worthy.

That being said, Texas’ law enforcement authorities are somewhat aggressive in pursuing violators of legal poker gambling laws. In 2010 alone, over 600 gambling related arrests were made.

Of course, if you have further questions regarding the legality of online poker, it’s best to consult a legal professional who knows about lawful real money Internet poker. To equip yourself further, you can find Texas’ full gambling and poker betting statues via our “References” section [3].

The Facts

The History Of Gambling In Texas

1933

1933

Iosgods Texas Poker

Like many other states, this was the year where Pari-mutuel betting became legal at horse racing tracks.

1937

1937

Unfortunately, this only last four years as betting was banned again at racing tracks.

1971

1971

The Legislature exempted charities from the anti-lottery statute throughout the state.

1973

1973

This was reversed in 1973 by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

1982

1982

A poll on the Republican primary ballot found majority support for betting. This could be a big influence for the return of pari-mutuel betting in years to come.

1987

1987

Five years later this was the case as a referendum passed which allows for pari-mutuel betting to return to racetracks.

1988

1988

The casino cruise industry began to develop in the 1980’s and the first sign that the industry was growing and developing came in 1988. The first “Casino Cruise” launched which allows gambling in international waters after setting sail from the coast of Texas.

1992

Iosgods Texas Poker Game

1992

The Texas lottery launched in 1992 and also offers scratch-off and drawing games. Additionally, the Mega Millions and Powerball were included.

1996-2002

1996-2002

The Kickapoo casino opened in 1996, which offered bingo, poker, a variant of blackjack and slot-like electronic dispensers. Unfortunately, this was the only tribal casino to remain open as legal battles took place regarding other tribal groups and the Texas government. This saw the closure of a number of high stakes bingo halls and the decline of tribal casinos.

2011

2011

Local referendums required to allow bingo and passed in 226 of the state’s 254 counties. As of 2011, a total of $533 million was awarded in prizes throughout the organisations that were authorized to conduct bingo games.

2013

2013

Gambling regulation started to be pushed forward with a few new acts that were introduced. The main aim of these was to expand gambling in different areas e.g. allowing Video Lottery Terminals at racetracks.

Texas is perhaps more famous for the iconic poker betting figures and game formats that have originated from the state, than for its place in legal real money gambling history. Doc Holiday, Doyle Brunson and Benny Binion, among others: all at one point called the Lone Star State their home. And let’s not forget that poker’s most prestigious poker gambling championship, the WSOP Main Event, takes place over a game of Texas No-Limit Hold’em.

Texas’ gambling origins date back to the days when part of the state still belonged to Mexico. The natives introduced the early settlers to a variety of card games and real cash poker variants and over the years, gambling houses and other gambling institutions like legal real money poker rooms in TX became prevalent.

After the Civil War, gambling became an integral facet of the Old West, and Texas proved no exception. In fact, by the 1870s gambling and poker betting had spread so far out of control that law enforcement agencies were forced to crack down on it, but to little avail. In particular, Houston and Texas’ other major cities boasted real money poker gambling facilities well into the mid 1900s.

Iosgods Texas Poker Tournaments

Eventually, the state’s conservative factions called for an end to illicit gambling and poker betting, resulting in the closure of most gambling houses by the 1970s. In the years that followed, several forms of real money gambling were reintroduced to the state, including pari-mutuel wagering in 1987 and a statewide lottery in 1991.

Native Americans are also permitted to operate gambling venues and lawful real cash poker facilities in Texas, although to date only one – the Kickapoos – have been successful in doing so. Their casino, Eagle Pass [4], is the only casino in the state, and even that resides on the Mexican border, far from any of Texas State’s major metropolises full of poker gambling enthusiasts.

Sadly, the state that gave birth to Texas Hold’em classifies real money poker in the same category as prostitution.

Regulated Gambling Options In Texas

Texas features far fewer regulated, legit real money poker and general gambling options than one would expect. The Texas Lottery offers ball drawing and scratch-off games, and is part of the multi-jurisdiction Mega Millions and Powerball drawings. Charitable gambling is also legal, albeit in limited forms. More specifically, bingo and raffles are legal while casino nights (including Texas Hold’em poker and other real money poker betting) are not.

Pari-mutuel wagering is overseen by the Texas Racing Commission, allowing residents of TX to wager on Class I horse and greyhound tracks in designated areas. The state also boasts one Indian Casino. Commercial gambling and real cash poker betting is strictly prohibited by law.

If you want to play Texas Hold’em legally at an online poker room in Texas, you are out of luck, but you can still enjoy that game and others at many online sites.

Iosgods Texas Poker

The Future Of Regulating Online Gambling In Texas

If anything, Texas’ powers-that-be are seeking to roll back gambling and poker betting expansion, not facilitate it. The state’s Republicans, with of course the exception of Joe Barton, are widely opposed to gambling and Internet poker and until power changes hands, we have no reason to believe that online poker websites, or any form of iGaming, will be introduced to Texas’ residents. Compounding matters, Texas’ residents tend towards conservatism, and are doing little to nothing to redirect government opinion on the issue of legal real money Internet poker gambling in TX.

Fun Fact

From 2001 to 2004, billionaire and long-time Dallas, Texas native Andy Beal, challenged the world’s finest real money poker players to a series of increasingly high-stakes fixed-limit poker games. Playing at limits as high as $50,000/$100,000, Beal enticed fear in his poker gambling opponents, who had to pool their money together to match Andy’s demands.

For a time, Andy fared well against The Corporation, which included real money poker betting pros Doyle Brunson, his son Todd, Jennifer Harman, Ted Forrest and Howard Lederer, among others. But in 2006, he ran into arguably the best real cash poker player to ever play the game, Phil Ivey, and would lose a total of $16.6 million in real money poker winnings over a three day stretch [5].

The Bottom Line

Despite Joe Barton, despite the origins of No-Limit Texas Hold’em and despite serving as the home to real money poker’s most legendary icon, Texas is widely regarded as one of the states least likely to regulate online poker and launch lawful real money poker gambling websites. Which is a shame really, as it currently inhabits over 8% of the United States population (26.5 million) – trailing only California in that regard.

Thus, not only could Texas sustain a thriving online poker community of Internet poker gambling fans, it could easily influence other states to get behind regulated online poker and legal real money Internet poker. But even the optimist in us has a hard time believing it will ever happen.

References

[1] ↑Rep. Joe Barton Introduces HR 2666 Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013

[2] ↑Rep. Barton’s Online Poker Bill Gains Respect

[3] ↑Texas Gambling Laws – Texas Statues

[4] ↑Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel

[5] ↑Phil Ivey vs. Andy Beal – Out $16.6 Million, Beal Heads Home

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