There are a lot of popular sports teams in Texas, but none bigger than the Dallas Cowboys.
A recent business school study found the ‘Boys have the largest fanbase in professional football, beating out the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers. Dallas fans follow their team like no other — at home at AT&T Stadium and on the road.
But Texans have to go online to gaming sites like Bovada to bet on their favorite team to beat their NFL rivals because betting laws in the Lone Star State are relatively strict.
Betting Laws in Texas
More than 28 million people live in the second-biggest state in the nation. Austin is the state capital, while Houston is its largest city with 2.3 million residents.
Gambling, whether it’s horse racing at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie or the slots at Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino in Eagle Pass, is regulated at the state level.
All legalized gambling within Texas is limited to the following areas:
- Tribal casinos
- Horse racing
- Dog racing
- Bingo and raffles
- Social gambling
- Charitable gambling
Land-based gambling in Texas is open to players of varying ages. Starting at the age of 18, players can bet on a few different events — primarily the lottery, bingo and horse racing. For the casinos and poker games, you must be 21 years old.
Texas law does not allow for casinos. The gambling law specifically prohibits “keeping a gambling place.” However, Native American lands are not subject to the same state gambling laws. Each of Texas’s three federally recognized tribes operates a casino.
“Game rooms” throughout the state feature slot machine-like devices commonly called “eight-liners.” The machines are legal if they offer only non-cash prizes valued at less than $5, but law enforcement officials say that illegal cash payouts are near universal.
The current climate for gambling in Texas is pretty restrictive, but new laws — and the fact that the state loses millions of revenue to its neighbors — may lead to progress soon. In the meantime, it’s all about race betting and social poker.
The state offers thoroughbred, quarter-horse and dog racing. Each racetrack must first obtain a license from the state, with greyhound licenses limited to three.
The top racetracks for thoroughbreds in Texas are Lone Star Park near Dallas and Sam Houston, which is north of Houston. The top dog track is Gulf Greyhound Park, which is about 30 miles southeast of Houston.
The lottery’s first game was the scratch-off ticket Lone Star Millions, with the first ticket sold to then Gov. Ann Richards at Polk’s Feed Store in Oak Hill. First-day sales of 23.2 million tickets set a then-world record, with first-week sales (ending June 5, 1992) also setting a world record.
As with most U.S. lotteries, players must be at least 18 years of age.
Texas Sports Betting Laws
The gambling laws in the state do not directly address online gambling as being legal or illegal. Operating an online gambling website in the state of Texas is illegal but it is safe for Texans to gamble at offshore gambling websites.
The U.S. Supreme Court in May 2018 struck down a federal law that barred sports betting in most states, but the ruling had no immediate impact on Texas, where wagering on sporting events at an establishment remains illegal.
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Major Sports Teams in Texas
National Football League
The Cowboys, one of the most storied franchises in all of sports, joined the NFL as an expansion team in 1960 and have won the Super Bowl five times (1971, 1977, 1992, 1993, 1995).
The Texans first played in 2002 as an expansion team, making them the league’s youngest franchise. They have never won the championship, but have earned a spot in the playoffs four times.
Major League Baseball
The Rangers, established in 1961 as the Washington Senators, have made eight playoff appearances but have never won the World Series.
The Astros entered the National League as an expansion team in 1962. In 2017, they became the first franchise in history to have won a pennant in both leagues. It was also the same year that the team won its first MLB championship.
National Basketball Association
All three Texas teams play in the Western Conference’s Southwest Division.
As of the 2017 season, the Dallas Mavericks had sold out 704 consecutive games since Dec. 15, 2001 — the longest current running sellout streak in North American major league sports. They have won one NBA title (2011).
The San Antonio Spurs currently rank first among active franchises for the highest winning percentage in NBA history to go along with their five championship rings (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014).
The Houston Rockets moved from San Diego in 1971. The Rockets have won the NBA Finals twice when they went back-to-back (1994, 1995).
National Hockey League
The team was founded during the 1967 NHL expansion as the Minnesota North Stars and ultimately relocated to Dallas as the Stars for the 1993-94 season. They have won one Stanley Cup (1998-99) and two conference titles.