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Where to find gambling spots in the Lone Star State
Whether you’re exploring lush blackland prairies, vast desert valleys or the bustling streets of downtown Houston, there’s perhaps no more fitting a place for a hand of Texas Hold’em poker than the Lone Star State. But armed with strict gambling policies, Texas is home to only a handful of casinos, most of which operate under stringent restrictions. Satisfy your gambling itch by visiting other acceptable sites for wagering, from racetracks where thoroughbreds gallop for glory, to floating casinos bobbing in international waters.
Q: Are casinos allowed in Texas?
A: As of 2017, Texas law prohibits the type of gambling found in most casinos, including slot machines, card games and table games. However, Texas’ three federally recognized Indian tribes – the Kickapoo, Alabama-Coushatta and Tigua tribes – own and operate casinos throughout the state. Federally recognized tribes are, to a certain extent, able to govern themselves as sovereign nations. While receiving federal recognition in 1983, the Kickapoo tribe never agreed to ban gaming on their sovereign land and, in 1996, they legally built a casino on their reservation. In order to gain federal recognition, in 1987, the Alabama-Coushatta and Tigua tribes agreed to prohibit gambling on their lands but have since built casinos, albeit with limited forms of gambling, citing their rights as sovereign nations. For their actions, as of 2017, the Alabama-Coushatta and Tigua tribes continue to face litigation and casino closure threats by the state of Texas.
Q: Where can you find Indian casinos in Texas?
A: The Kickapoo tribe’s Lucky Eagle Casino is in Eagle Pass, about 2.5 hours southwest of San Antonio. The only Texas casino with an attached hotel, Lucky Eagle is also home to a bingo hall, poker room and more than 3,300 video games and slot machines. Sign up for the Players Club either online or in person to earn points towards casino credits or merchandise.
The disputed Indian casinos are Naskila Gaming, located about 90 minutes northeast of Houston, and Speaking Rock Entertainment Center in El Paso, owned and operated by the Alabama-Coushatta and Tigua tribes, respectively. Inside both casinos you’ll find devices that look and sound like traditional slot machines but, in actuality, are electronic bingo games in which you play a card on each spin and compete against other players. Naskila Gaming is an alcohol-free zone with a nearby lakeside campground should you wish to spend the night. Speaking Rock draws big crowds for its mostly free, year-round concerts, so make sure you arrive early if you want a good viewing spot. All of Texas’ Indian casinos are open 24/7 and restricted to patrons age 21 and older.
Q: Are there horse racing tracks in Texas?
Year-round wagering and meets featuring thoroughbred and quarter horse racing are available at Texas’ three major racetracks: Sam Houston Race Park in Houston; Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie 15 minutes west of Dallas; and Retama Park in Selma, a 30-minute drive southwest of San Antonio. While you can’t place a bet online, Sam Houston and Lone Star Parks allow you to buy admission tickets and reserve seats on their website. All three tracks offer simulcast racing, which means even on days when there’s no live racing, you can still go to the track to bet on races from around the country. Admission is free or significantly reduced on simulcast-only days, but you may be restricted to certain areas of the park, such as a sports book-like bar or a specific concourse. You must be 21 years of age to place a wager at any time.
Q: Are there any casino cruises in Texas?
A: As of 2017, Jacks or Better Casino, which sails out of Galveston, is Texas’ only operating casino cruise. Public cruises, which last about six hours, depart Friday through Sunday year-round, with the rest of the week reserved for private parties. Sailing aboard a 155-foot yacht, the ship travels at least 9.1 miles offshore into the international waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where guests are then allowed to gamble on sporting events, gaming tables and slot machines. The ship offers an on-site ATM and motion sickness pills, and patches are available for purchase but they should be consumed at least an hour before sailing. You must be 18 years of age to board the ship but 21 or older to consume an alcoholic beverage.
Texas was the 28th state to join the United States and has earned a reputation for being one of the most business-friendly states in the country.
Yet, to this day, Texas remains the state least likely to legalize online gambling in the US.
Currently, online gambling is illegal in The Lone Star state. Brick and mortar casinos built in the state are also deemed to be illegal.
However, there are still a few ways you can gamble legally in the state:
- Indian Casinos
- Boat Cruise Casinos
- Horse and Dog Tracks
Online Casinos in Texas
Unfortunately, it doesn't look like online casinos will ever be legalized in Texas. The government is very opposed to the idea and dismisses any attempts at trying to regulate it.
That being said, there are still options for those who want to play casino games for real money! Texas allows sweepstakes which means you can play slots online and potentially win cash.
You can also participate in legal online poker games through sweepstakes sites or Daily Fantasy Sports leagues. The state tends to move quite slow when it comes to gambling laws, land andonline, so we don't expect much out of Texas.
Land-Based Casinos in Texas
There are two Indian casinos and one casino boat in Texas.
Both Indian casinos offer class II gaming machines based on bingo. Class II video gaming devices in Texas casinos look like slot machines but are actually bingo games and the spinning reels arefor “entertainment purposes only.”
No public information is available concerning the payback percentages on any gaming machines in Texas casinos. Unlike the casinos in Texas, in many states, the slot machine payback statisticsfor that particular state’s casinos are released as a matter of public record. Just click here to seea list of slot machine payback statistics for all U.S. casinos.
If you are looking for Texas casinos near Houston this is your best bet. While Houston has no casinos, Jacks or Better Casino is only about an hour away.
Types of Casinos in Texas
Currently, there are only 2 land-based casinos in operation in the state of Texas. Both of these are owned, operated, and built on Native American territories. There is also one casino cruiseship, and horse tracks which accept parimutuel betting.
Under federal law, all Native American territories are considered to be independent and operate under their own jurisdiction.
However, ever since the 'Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act' came into play in 1988, the government of Texas has been trying to change this. A campaign was launched within the court system toshut down all forms of gambling, specific to those on Native American soil within the state.
The state of Texas argues that the 'Federal Restoration Act' of 1987, which officially recognized the Tigua and Alabama - Coushatta tribes, should take legal priority. Why? Because this billexplicitly prohibits gambling.
One of the Indian casinos in Texas, Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino, offers pull-tab machines, bingo, and poker. That casino is the larger of the two casinos in Texas. It has a hotel, fiverestaurants, and a casino with 3,300 gaming machines.
The other casino, Naskila Gaming, does not have a hotel. It has one cafe and more than 800 gaming machines.
Both of these casinos are open 24 hours daily.
Casino Cruise Ship
The casino boat, Jacks or Better Casino, is based in Galveston. The boat sails nine miles out into the Gulf of Mexico where casino gambling is permitted.
The casino boat offers blackjack, craps, roulette, three card poker, a sportsbook, slots, and video poker. You must provide a photo ID or you won’t be allowed to board.
Surprisingly, Texas does allow residents to wager at horse and dog tracks in the state.
The horse tracks are broken down into Classes:
Class 1 horse tracks:
- Lone Star Park - Grand Prairie
- Retama Park - Selma
- Sam Houston Race Park - Houston
These tracks are allowed to host races as many times as they would like.
Class 2 horse tracks have yet to be built in Texas. Multiple tracks are in the works, and once open, will be permitted to host up to 60 race days a year.
Class 3 horse tracks:
- Gillespie County Fair - Fredericksburg
Currently, this is the only Class 3 horse track that operates in Texas. The Texas Racing Commission allows Class 3 tracks to host up to 16 race days a year.
There are no Class 4 horse tracks in Texas.
Texas has three greyhound tracks, as permitted by the Texas Racing Commission. Dog racing isn't nearly as popular as horse racing in the state, but still offers residents the chance to watchraces live or virtually. The most popular greyhound track is the Gulf Greyhound Park, located in La Marque.
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Texas residents can also visit the following greyhound tracks:
- Valley Race Park - Harlingen
- Gulf Coast Racing - Corpus Christi
List of Land-Based Casinos In Texas
Shown below is a list of all casinos in Texas. Click on a casino name below to see a page of detailed information about all Texas casinos.
Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino Hotel
Nearest Casino Houston Texas
- 794 Lucky Eagle Dr, Eagle Pass, TX 78852
- 1 830-773-2255
- Games: 3,000 slots and 1 poker room
- 540 State Park Rd 56, Livingston, TX 77351
- 1 936-563-2946
- Games: 800 slots