Texas Online Poker

Is online poker legal in Texas? We’ll navigate through the intricacies of Texas gambling laws, highlight the key regulations that impact online poker for real money, and provide you with a clear understanding of the current landscape. Join us as we unravel the legal framework surrounding online poker in Texas and empower you with the knowledge you need to start playing.

Is Online Poker Legal in Texas?

No it is not. However, there are no specific laws that explicitly prohibit online poker in the state. There is also no legislation in place that clearly legalizes and regulates it. Poker players in Texas have the option to access offshore poker sites that offer an authentic poker playing experience and can be a great way to hone your skills and win some real money.

The Best Poker Sites for Texas Players

Below are the top-rated poker sites that offer an exceptional gaming experience with a wide variety of poker games and tournaments for Texas players. Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn the ropes or a seasoned player seeking high-stakes action, these top poker sites provide a secure and exciting environment to showcase your skills.

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Table of Contents

Understanding the legal landscape of gambling and poker in Texas is crucial for enthusiasts and players. Texas has a conservative stance on gambling and has outlawed most forms of wagering. However, there are specific exceptions and grey areas that poker players should be aware of.

Below, we provide a summarized overview of Texas gambling and poker laws, including the definitions of gambling, the legality of online poker, live poker offerings, and other relevant information.

Type/CodeSummary
State Code Section(s)PEN.10.47; CIV.6
Gambling DefinitionEngaging in certain activities can result in legal offenses, such as placing bets on the outcome of games, contests, or the performance of participants, wagering on political nominations or elections, and participating in games of chance involving cards, dice, or other gambling devices, with the intention of winning money or other valuable items.
Definition of Gambling DeviceA broad definition encompasses any electronic, electromechanical, or mechanical device that, in exchange for payment, allows the player to potentially win something of value. The outcome of such devices, whether solely or partially based on chance, even if skill is involved, determines the prize. This definition includes various forms of gambling devices, such as bingo, keno, blackjack, lottery, roulette, video poker, and similar electronic, electromechanical, or mechanical games, or imitations of them.
Definition of BetAn arrangement in which the outcome, involving the gain or loss of something valuable, is determined primarily or partly by luck.
Online Poker/GamblingTo date, the state legislature has not put forward any proposals aimed at legalizing any form of online poker or internet gaming.
Live PokerCardrooms in major Texas cities present their live poker offerings as membership clubs, operating under that designation. While these poker games do not involve a rake, there are entry fees or membership costs associated with joining these clubs. It’s worth noting that, to date, there have been no court rulings that have resulted in the closure of these poker rooms.
CasinosTexas does not have any casinos, but there are entertainment venues that feature cardrooms.
Sports BettingHR1275 and HJR 61 would regulate Texas sports betting.
DFSIn 2017, a proposal to legalize daily fantasy sports was introduced; however, it failed to progress beyond the committee stage.
Other Forms of GamblingIn Texas, activities such as horse and greyhound racing, on-track pari-mutuel betting, lottery, social gambling, bingo, charitable gambling, and contests of skill are legally permitted.

Can I play poker online in Texas?

YES!  Texas poker players have the option to legally play on offshore poker sites that cater to American players. However, playing live poker for real money in Texas is subject to certain legal restrictions. Under the current laws, participating in poker games where money is wagered, and there is a house or host profiting from the game, is considered illegal gambling.

The Legal Status of Online Poker in Texas

Being a conservative state, Texas has a negative view of gambling, and it has outlawed close to all forms of gambling. In fact, section 47.02 of Title 10 of the Texas Penal Code states:

“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.”

Which pretty neatly covers almost all forms of gambling you can think of. The only types of gambling that are legal in Texas are bingo games conducted by religious or non-profit organizations, state lotteries, and raffles conducted by religious, non-profit, or sporting organizations – as per the Texas Constitution, Article 3, Section 47.

Online Poker and the Texas Constitution

So, you may be wondering how exactly is it legal to play online poker in Texas, given the information above? Well, subsection (b) states the following:

“It is a defense to prosecution under this section that: (1) the actor engaged in gambling in a private place; (2) no person received any economic benefit other than personal winnings; and (3) except for the advantage of skill or luck, the risks of losing and the chances of winning were the same for all participants.”

It’s clear that online poker is gambling in a private place, and the chances of winning are the same for all participants, barring skill or luck. If you’re playing in a non-raked game amongst friends, it’s perfectly legal – however, the gray area comes when playing on a site that takes rake, as in that circumstance, someone is receiving economic benefit other than personal winnings.

That being said, while Tight Poker is not offering legal advice, there have been no reports of people being prosecuted for playing at raked online poker sites in their own homes, so while it may technically be illegal to play on these sites, it’s unlikely any negative consequences will occur.

Potential Changes to Online Poker Laws in Texas

Given the complicated nature of online poker laws in Texas, many poker players are hoping for changes that will improve the poker landscape in the Lone Star state.

However, that’s looking unlikely, as there are no plans for any pieces of legislation that will change the outlook of poker in Texas. Player will just have to continue to play at offshore online poker sites if they want to keep honing their online skills.

Live Poker Memberships

While online poker doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon, there are changes happening in the world of live poker. Currently, card rooms in Texas get around the illegality of charging a rake by charging players for memberships and seat fees.

However, many lawmakers in Texas still believe this to be illegal and have been pushing to close these card rooms, such as The Lodge, owned by Doug Polk, Brad Owen, and Andrew Neeme, and Texas Card House, among others.

House Bill 2345

On the 13th of April, the House Licensing Committee voted “yes” on House Bill 2345 – a bill sponsored by Rep. Ryan Guillen, which, along with Texas Senate companion bill SB 1681, aims to clear up some of the language in the current legislation.

The bill would add a subdivision 2a, which would read, “’Economic benefit’ means direct winnings from a game of skill or luck. The term does not include a benefit received before a game commences or after payment of the direct winnings from the game,” which would legalize the taking of rake.

While there’s a long way to go before this Bill is fully passed and ratified into state law, it’s a step in the right direction. If it does pass, there’s a strong possibility that online poker advocates would use this momentum to try and push through legislation legalizing online poker.

Alternative Ways to Play Poker in Texas

While playing online poker at a raked poker room is technically illegal under Texas law, there are ways you can get around it. As we mentioned above, one of the ways to play poker legally is to play in an unraked game, where players can only profit from the money they earn at the tables.

However, one of the downsides of doing this is that you’d have to play with play money and settle up after the game is over, so you’re relying on other people paying you out when you win, which is risky.

Sweepstakes

Another way to play poker legally in Texas is to play in Sweepstakes Poker games. If you’re unfamiliar with Sweepstakes Poker, it’s a form of poker that lets you win real money by playing with a virtual currency, then redeeming that currency for cash.

For example, you sign up for a site and buy poker coins to play with. You play poker games using those coins, and when you’re done, you can cash out those coins for prizes or real money. The reason this is legal is due to subsection (e) under Section 47.02 of Title 10 of the Texas Penal Code, which reads:

“It is a defense to prosecution under this section that a person played for something of value other than money using an electronic, electromechanical, or mechanical contrivance excluded from the definition of “gambling device” under Section 47.01(4)(B).”

Sites like Global Poker use this loophole to offer “real money” games to Texans and players all over the US. However, many of the sites that offer real money games to Texans are unregulated, so we always recommend doing your due diligence before signing up and depositing your hard-earned money to the site.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while the legal landscape surrounding online poker in Texas can be complex, it is essential to understand that playing poker online in the state is not illegal. Texas residents can confidently participate in online poker games, leveraging offshore platforms that cater to American players.

It’s crucial to stay informed about any updates or changes in the laws and regulations, as the online poker scene continues to evolve. By adhering to the current legal framework and enjoying the game responsibly, poker enthusiasts in Texas can embrace the thrill of online poker and engage in this popular pastime with peace of mind.

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Jordan conroy

Author
Jordan Conroy, a respected name in the online poker arena, has cultivated his authority through years of dedicated play and content creation. Since 2020, he has earned a stellar reputation for his in-depth analysis of poker theory and his ability to keep a finger on the pulse of the latest developments in the poker world. Jordan's dedication to staying at the forefront of poker knowledge allows him to consistently deliver top-quality content that resonates with both novice players and seasoned professionals. Beyond his poker expertise, he brings a diverse perspective, closely following other competitive domains like soccer, snooker, and Formula 1, enriching his insights and providing a comprehensive understanding of the gaming landscape.
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