Texas Sports Betting

Sports betting is not legal in Texas at this time. There have been many efforts to make it legal, but all of them have fallen short. The next chance to legalize sports betting will come during the 2023 legislative session, but there are no guarantees or particularly hopeful signs that legalization is forthcoming.

The lack of sports betting is befuddling in a state as sports-crazy as Texas. Football is its own religion in the state, complete with cathedral-like stadiums and passionate denominations. There are also three NBA teams and two MLB squads in the state. It’s no surprise that the majority of Texans are either in favor of legal sports betting or are indifferent to it. According to a recent poll, only 26% of Texans oppose the idea of legalizing sports betting in the state.

Perhaps public opinion might finally sway lawmakers in 2023. It hasn’t happened yet, but there’s always a chance that the wind is blowing in a different direction. Whatever happens, this page will be your guide for everything to do with betting on sports in Texas. Read on for the latest on sports betting in the Lone Star State.

Latest updates

Updated: June 10, 2022

In the absence of current legislative action, there are a few positive signs for the prospect of legal sports betting in Texas.

The Houston Astros became the first team in Texas to strike a deal with a sports betting service. BetMGM became the team’s official sports betting partner, essentially getting them in on the ground floor when sports betting is legalized in Texas. This deal comes roughly a year after the Houston Texans made Ceasar’s their official casino partner. Anecdotal reports suggest the Dallas Cowboys are strongly in favor of sports betting in Texas. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has long been a fan of sports betting and has stated his support for it explicitly in public before. Jones has several fellow team owners on his side, including the Dallas Mavericks’ Mark Cuban, who has been a proponent of legal gaming for years, and the Houston Rockets’ owner, Tilman Fertitta. Fertitta, for his part, also owns the Golden Nugget chain of casinos. 

Fertitta presents an interesting conflict with his obvious investment in both legal gambling and sports betting at Texas sporting events. One of his major casinos, the Golden Nugget Lake Charles, anchors the vibrant Louisiana gambling city of Lake Charles. The Louisiana Department of Economic Development has found that around two thirds of all gamblers in Louisiana come from out of state. That number increases to roughly 80% in the Lake Charles area, with most out-of-state gamblers coming from the Houston area. While Fertitta has voiced interest in legal gambling and sports betting, he’s also consistently donated to Gov. Greg Abbott’s political campaigns. One can assume this is at least partly with the aim of keeping gambling out of Texas to protect his Lake Charles interests.  

Meanwhile, Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, both of whom are up for re-election this year, oppose sports betting to varying degrees. Patrick is most vehemently opposed, claiming gambling legislation will never “see the light of day,” while Abbott’s anti-gambling position has softened over the last couple years, indicating he may want to see the issue make it to the ballot.

Gov. Abbott’s opponent in November will be Beto O’Rourke. At an April news conference in Dallas, O’Rourke announced he was in favor of legalizing both casino gambling and sports betting in the state to raise revenue for two hot button voting issues, property taxes and health care.

Is sports betting legal in Texas?

No. Sports betting is not legal in Texas. There are no retail sportsbooks operating legally in the state. The nearest sportsbooks to Texas are located in Louisiana, Arkansas and New Mexico.

Does Texas allow online sports betting?

No. Texas does not allow any online sportsbooks to operate within state lines.

It is possible this information might not jibe with what you find elsewhere online. Google search results might show sportsbooks that accept online bets from Texas or that say the activity is legal in the state.

While the state does have a blanket prohibition on gambling, it does not specifically mention online sports betting in Texas as an illegal activity. Therefore, while we say that sports betting isn’t legal in Texas (because it isn’t), some sites argue that online sports betting isn’t illegal, either.

However, the question of legality is likely the least of the reasons that you should avoid playing on one of these sites. Such sites are based outside of the United States and do not have any reason to follow Texas or US law. They also don’t answer to lawsuits or other legal actions filed in Texas. That means if you end up in a dispute with one of these sites, you may not have any way to get relief. As frustrating as the legal situation in Texas is, the best thing to do is take a drive to a neighboring state if you want to place a sports bet and avoid risking your finances and identity at an offshore sportsbook.

Have any Texas sports betting bills come close to passing?

Not really. Before the US Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting in 2018, there wasn’t much activity on the topic in Texas. In fact, during the 2017 session, the only proposed sports betting measures actually sought to strengthen the laws against TX sports betting.

In the two legislative sessions that have followed the Supreme Court’s decision, lawmakers proposed a total of nine bills to allow sports betting in Texas. In all nine cases, the bills made it no further than a committee assignment before quietly dying. It’s no wonder that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick so confidently assured listeners on a radio program that sports betting wouldn’t “see the light of day” during the 2021 legislative session.

Despite Patrick’s D.O.A. assessment of gaming legislation, the Las Vegas Sands PAC, a major political action committee, funded by Miriam Adelson and her late husband, Sheldon Adelson, pumped over $1 million into the 2021 legislative session. They continue to back Texas legislators and will likely apply significant pressure to the 2023 session.

When will Texas allow sports betting?

Not before 2023 at the earliest. The Texas Legislature only meets in odd-numbered years, and with 2021 in the rearview mirror, there can be no movement on the issue until the next session.

Although there are signs that 2023 might be the year for Texas, it’s always going to be an uphill battle. Top leaders in the state strongly oppose sports betting, and they are likely to resist any serious efforts to legalize the activity or any other type of gambling. For a piece of gaming legislation to reach the ballot it would need a two-thirds vote in both houses of the legislature.

Where will I be able to place a sports bet?

Assuming that sports betting were to become legal in Texas, the most likely locations for retail sportsbooks would be the horse tracks and former dog tracks in the state. It is also possible that the major professional sports arenas could be locations for sportsbooks. There is a small but nonzero chance that Texas could legalize the card rooms that have popped up around the state and allow sportsbooks there, too, but that’s probably more a pipe dream than anything else.

That said, few states are better suited to online sports betting than Texas. The state covers more than 260,000 square miles, which means no matter where physical sportsbooks appear, many Texans are not going to be able to visit one conveniently. The state’s geography would make online sportsbooks in Texas an especially attractive option, were sports betting to become legal.

Types of sports bets in Texas

When and if sports betting debuts in Texas, there will be a variety of wagers available. If you are new to sports betting, you might find some terms and wagers that don’t immediately make sense. The first thing to discuss is the most basic type of wager, moneylines, because their odds format is important to understand for pretty much any bet you place. After that, we’ll go over some additional bets.

Moneylines

Moneylines are simply wagers on which side you expect to win the game, regardless of the final score. However, moneyline bets might initially seem intimidating because of the standard format for the odds.

Moneyline odds use a three-digit number for each team. Most of the time, there will be a positive number and a negative number. For example, an NBA listing might appear as follows:

NBA moneyline listing
Screen-captured from DraftKings Sportsbook

The listing in the right column is the moneyline for this game between the Indiana Pacers and the Houston Rockets. Let’s discuss what these numbers are telling us.

First of all, we know that Indiana is the favorite because it has negative odds. The negative number indicates the favorite unless there are two negative moneylines. In that case, the number farthest from zero indicates the favorite. In a game with two teams at -110 and -115, the team at -115 would be the favorite.

Indiana’s number indicates that a winning bet of $150 on the Pacers would get you $100 in profit. The payout will scale up and down to match your wager automatically, but the ratio will remain the same. In essence, you are paying a premium to bet on the Pacers because they are more likely to win.

Conversely, you would win $130 in profit if you successfully wagered $100 on the Rockets at odds of +130. Because the odds are not in your favor, taking the extra risk provides the potential for a greater payout.

This is called the “American” odds format and is quite common in sports betting. It’s important to understand because sportsbooks use it for almost every wager as a method to display their payout ratios for each bet.

Other types of sports bets

Here are some other common types of sports bets that you’ll find in Texas if sports betting ever comes to the state:

  • Point spreads — Point spreads, or spread bets, take the eventual margin of victory into account. The sportsbook provides an estimated margin, and bettors wager whether the favorite will exceed that margin or the underdog will do better than the estimate. Generally speaking, point spreads pay out at odds of -110 on either side, though the numbers may move a little.
  • Totals — You may also see these appear as over/under bets. The sportsbook estimates how many total points the two sides will combine to score, and bettors can wager on whether the actual total will be over or under the estimate. Colloquially, “taking the over” or “taking the under” can be a way to estimate the chance of an event occurring repeatedly, such as the number of times Shaq will refer to the fact that Charles Barkley never won a championship during a broadcast.
  • Futures — Futures wagers are bets about events that occur at the end of a season of play or high-profile tournament. Often, a futures bettor is wagering on the eventual champion team or an individual award winner from that season. Futures usually appear as a long series of moneylines. Most of the time, every wager will be an underdog because even the favorites are less likely to win than the field. Futures are the dominant type of wager for golf, and they are quite common for March Madness bettors, too.
  • Propositions — Proposition wagers, or “prop bets,” are wagers about smaller events within a game. Most fun betting stories are about prop bets, since the descriptions of the terms are so colorful. You could even argue that kids daring one another on the playground is a form of prop betting, although it’s not clear what anyone wins. Prop bets in sports betting tend to be about statistical achievements of individuals or teams or the result of a partial period of play, rather than the entire game.
  • Parlays — These are combination wagers that fold several different single bets into one conglomerate wager. Each constituent part of the parlay is a “leg.” Parlays are high-risk, high-reward bets because of their one inflexible rule: You must be correct about every single leg in order to win anything. Even a single miss is enough to lose the entire bet. As the number of legs increases, so do the risks and the payout potential. Successful parlays with many legs can yield outsized wins, but realize that many other parlays failed in order to generate that payout.
  • Live betting — A live bet takes place after the game has commenced and usually asks short-term questions about smaller chunks of the contest. In fact, many live bets are on the outcome of individual plays. You may also see pregame wagers like spreads and moneylines carried forward into the game, but understand that these will be new bets that are taking the progress of the game into account. Because live wagering is so fast-paced, it is almost exclusively available online. The logistics of managing live betting in a retail sportsbook are usually untenable.

Popular teams for betting in Texas

Texas is the second-most populous state in the US and is home to roughly 30 million people. It’s no surprise that many major sports teams call the state home. With several cities whose populations exceed 1 million, there are multiple loyal fanbases to which teams can sell tickets and merchandise. With that in mind, here is a rundown of the teams that are sure to be popular choices if sports betting launches in Texas.

NFL

Football is king in Texas, but to be fair, the actual favorite of many Texans is high school football. No state allows betting on high school sports, so anyone who’d want to wager on the Friday night lights is going to be out of luck. However, there are two NFL teams in the state:

  • Dallas Cowboys: AT&T Stadium, 1 AT&T Way, Arlington, TX 76011
  • Houston Texans: NRG Stadium, NRG Parkway, Houston, TX 77054

NBA

Texas hosts three NBA teams. All three have brought home championships to their respective cities, although not as recently as their fans would like. Still, there’s no denying that Texas is a major spot for NBA teams:

  • Dallas Mavericks: American Airlines Center, 2500 Victory Park Lane, Dallas, TX 75219
  • Houston Rockets: Toyota Center, 1510 Polk St., Houston, TX 77003
  • San Antonio Spurs: AT&T Center, 1 AT&T Center Parkway, San Antonio, TX 78219

One thing to note is a potential issue that could affect betting on the Rockets. Gambling commissions around the country have often viewed businessman Tilman Fertitta’s ownership of both the Rockets and the Golden Nugget casino chain as an uncomfortable conflict of interest for fairly accepting wagers on Rockets games. As a result, betting on the Rockets might not be available if Golden Nugget launches in Texas.

MLB

Texas is home to two Major League Baseball teams and several minor-league affiliates. Both MLB teams have experienced postseason success, although the lone World Series championship to the state’s credit (in 2017) is unfortunately shrouded in controversy due to the revelation that the champion Houston Astros were stealing opponents’ pitching signs. Regardless, both baseball teams are big draws in the state:

  • Houston Astros: Minute Maid Park, 501 Crawford St., Houston, TX 77002
  • Texas Rangers: Globe Life Field, 734 Stadium Drive, Arlington, TX 76011

NHL

Texas is not known for its cold weather or hockey tradition. However, the state is home to a single NHL team, and there is talk that a second team might be moving to the state sometime soon. The Arizona Coyotes have been a contender to relocate to Texas in the near future, and Houston has emerged as one of the most likely destinations for the “Yotes” to reappear. The Dallas Stars, however, are the state’s only current NHL franchise.

  • Dallas Stars: American Airlines Center, 2500 Victory Park Lane, Dallas, TX 75219

MLS

Soccer has never caught on in the US to the same degree as it has in other parts of the world. Where top soccer leagues like the English Premier League, La Liga and Serie A are some of the most prestigious sports outlets in their respective countries, MLS is a distant rival in popularity to the four leagues mentioned above. However, with so many in Texas from different countries where soccer is king, it’s no shock that there is a strong MLS presence in the state:

  • Austin FC: Q2 Stadium, 10414 Mc Kalla Place, Austin, TX 78758
  • FC Dallas: Toyota Stadium, 9200 World Cup Way, Frisco, TX 75033
  • Houston Dynamo FC: PNC Stadium, 2200 Texas Ave., Houston, TX 77003

NCAA

It’s no surprise that a big state like Texas has plenty of NCAA teams. In fact, in line with its population, Texas has more Division I NCAA schools than any other state besides California. There are 21 colleges and universities that play at the highest level of competition, to say nothing of the many Division II and Division III institutions around the state. Here are the Division I schools in Texas:

  • Baylor University, Waco
  • Houston Baptist University, Houston
  • Lamar University, Beaumont
  • Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View
  • Rice University, Houston
  • Sam Houston State University, Huntsville
  • Southern Methodist University, Dallas
  • Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches
  • Texas A&M University, College Station
  • Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi
  • Texas Christian University, Fort Worth
  • Texas Southern University, Houston
  • Texas State University, San Marcos
  • Texas Tech University, Lubbock
  • University of Houston, Houston
  • University of North Texas, Denton
  • University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington
  • University of Texas at Austin, Austin
  • University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso
  • University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio
  • University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg

Note that some states that have legalized sports betting do not allow wagering on in-state college teams. Additionally, some states may not allow certain types of bets, such as prop bets on individual college athletes. It’s hard to know where Texas might come down on this topic, but it’s likely to be a debate if the state ever moves closer to legalizing sports betting.

Snapshot of Texas sports betting

Sports betting is not legal in Texas, but there are rumbles that it might become legal sometime in the future. There are some powerful advocates for the activity in the state, and it probably has a better chance of becoming law than it ever has. Below are some quick bullet points for the current status:

  • Sports betting legal? No.
  • Launch: Potentially 2023 at the very earliest, but 2024 is a more reasonable estimate even with an optimistic view of how quickly legislation might pass.
  • Availability: Texas has little in the way of casinos, so racetracks and sports arenas are the most likely locations for sportsbooks. Card rooms might become eligible if they concurrently or separately become legal, but this scenario is rather unlikely.
  • ETA for online launch: 2024 is probably the earliest, if at all, as there is no precedent for online gambling in Texas. Even the lottery and all horse betting must take place in person.
  • Anticipated Texas betting apps: Texas has the population and interest to support as many sports betting apps as any other state, and those factors would draw the biggest names. However, without any legislation on the table, it’s hard to estimate what the industry would entail.
  • Legal age for sports betting: Although most of the limited gambling in Texas requires players only to be 18, sports betting would almost certainly require bettors to be 21 or older.

Texas Sports Betting FAQ

Probably not. The earliest that sports betting could become legal in Texas is 2023, and it would take a sea change from lawmakers to move the needle to positive in such a short period of time.

It’s not for certain, but quite likely. Texas’ immense area means that millions of Texans would not be able to visit sportsbooks in person with any kind of regularity. Since physical books would likely only be in the cities, online sports betting would be the only way to include small-town Texas sports bettors.

No. You would be able to place a wager if you are in the state’s borders, but it will not be necessary to show that your residence is in Texas. However, be prepared for each online book to demand that you verify your physical location in Texas, as interstate sports betting remains illegal on the federal level, and would likely be illegal on the state level, too.

The Texas Lottery, most likely. The lottery commission is one of the only gambling-related entities in the state, and it has the most experience with betting, for whatever that’s worth. It is possible, however, that new sports betting bill could also allow for the creation of a genuine gambling commission.

It’s impossible to say. In-state college teams are a frequent target for lawmakers looking for concessions or other restrictions on a new sports betting market. A limitation or ban on betting on the University of Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, or any other school in Texas would certainly not be a unique stance for a state to adopt.

Almost certainly. If sports betting comes to Texas, it’s quite likely that DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook would be a part of it. Both companies already serve Texans as DFS providers and wouldn’t want to turn their backs on the second-largest state in the nation.