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Note The 88th Regular Legislative Session begins on January 10th, 2023. This means new laws may be passed in early 2023 that may affect this subject. To research pending legislation on this topic, please see the resources below.
Texas is one of the strictest states when it comes to gambling and its laws can cover a wide variety of activities. Under Texas law, (Penal Code §47.02) gambling is considered a criminal offense if someone:
The law does provide for some exceptions such as participating in the state lottery or placing bets on horse and greyhound dog races (sometimes referred to as pari-mutuel wagering). The law also provides for some affirmative defenses to prosecution:
Additional exceptions include if the person reasonably believed their conduct:
The first page of this guide will provide you with an overview of the Texas laws on gambling while the subsequent pages will discuss more specific topics like bingo, eight-liners and poker.
Below you will find references to areas of Texas and federal law related to gambling. If you find these statutes difficult to understand, please see the Understanding the Law resources below for a "plain English" explanation of these laws.
Below you will find links to Texas Attorney General opinions issued on gambling. While attorney general opinions can be highly persuasive and are entitled to great weight, the ultimate determination of a law's applicability, meaning or constitutionality is left to the courts.