Can You Play Blackjack in Texas?

Texas Flag on Left With a Blackjack Hand on Right

Being the birthplace of Texas Holdem, Texas has a reputation for card games. However, the Lone Star State isn’t friendly towards card games in general. It takes a strict stance against many forms of gambling.

Therefore, you might wonder if blackjack is legal in Texas. After all, blackjack is one of the world’s most popular card games.

The following guide covers the legality of blackjack in Texas. It also discusses what forms of gambling are legal in the state. And you’re going to learn the likelihood of these things changing in the future.

Blackjack Is Illegal in Texas

Neither blackjack nor any other casino games are legal in Texas at the time of this writing. The Lone Star State has a ban on all forms of casino gaming.

Texas does allow two casinos that don’t necessarily operate on its soil (covered later). However, neither option equates to a full-blown commercial casino.

This state also features Class II pull-tab games around the Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio areas. These pull-tab games look and play similar to slot machines.

However, they differ in certain ways so as to avoid violating Texas’ gambling laws. These slot machines use a confusing mechanism that revolves around a pull-tab server.

The pull-tab server takes results from printed papers and applies them to slots results. This process works differently than Vegas-style slot machines (a.k.a. Class III), which use a random number generator to determine results.

Texas features another slots-type game called an “8-liner”. True to its name, an 8-liner offers eight pay lines along with small payouts.

You can only win up to $5 per round, which keeps 8-liners just within Texas’ laws. According to the state’s “Fuzzy Animals Law,” games aren’t considered gambling if they offer prizes worth $5 or less.

This law is meant for carnival games involving toy animal prizes. However, slots developers found a clever way to apply it to gaming.

Why Is the Lone Star State So Against Gambling?

Rugged Texas used to be a place where people frequently gambled underground. The underground setting is where Texas holdem was born.

Famous poker pro and 10-time World Series of Poker champion Doyle Brunson grew up in Texas and learned holdem here. He was robbed many times while playing poker games during the 1950s and 60s.

Those days largely disappeared, though, after Texas underwent a fundamental change in the 1970s. It transitioned from a Democratic state to a conservative Republican state.

The religious right pushed strong conservatism on the state’s residents, which remains the status quo in many parts of the Lone Star State today. Whether underground or above board, gambling doesn’t fit into this fundamentalism narrative.

What Can You Gamble on in Texas?

This state may not be the friendliest towards gamblers. It does, however, permit a few forms of legal gambling. Charity gaming, social gaming, horse racing, dog racing, and poker are all legal here.

Charity gaming, social gaming, and horse racing are legal in many states. Even Texas is willing to allow these activities.

Greyhound Dogs Racing

Dog racing is a different story, though, because most states have banned it. Nevertheless, the Lone Star State remains one of the few places with legal greyhound racing.

Texas doesn’t allow any commercial poker rooms. It does, however, let people host home poker games so long as they don’t collect rake.

The Lone Star State Has 2 Casinos…Sort of

As mentioned before, Texas currently bans casino games. Strangely enough, though, it features a couple of local casinos.

The catch is that these casinos aren’t really within Texas territory. The Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino is located on the Kickapoo Indian Reservation (on the Texas-Mexico border).

The Arkansas Queen is a casino cruise ship that can only offer gaming when it’s in international waters. It must sail out several miles before letting anybody gamble.

Again, nobody on official Texas soil provides gaming. However, Texans do have a couple of local options if they want to play casino games.

Online Blackjack Is Widely Available to Texans

Unless you plan on visiting the Arkansas Queen or Lucky Eagle Casino—both of which are in the southern part of Texas—you’ll have a tough time playing blackjack in this state.

Therefore, you might give up on enjoying one of the finest casino card games here. The good news, though, is that online blackjack is widely available in the Lone Star State.

Many offshore casinos provide their services to Texans. They not only offer blackjack but also slots, roulette, baccarat, Caribbean stud, three-card poker, and more.

Online Casino

These sites feel comfortable serving Texas because the state constitution doesn’t have anything specific about online gambling. Instead, it merely provides a general definition of what counts as illegal gambling.

Of course, none of this is to say that blackjack is legal in the Lone Star State. Again, Texas has never legalized any form of gaming.

However, state officials aren’t doing anything to stamp out offshore gaming either. They’re fairly content to keep the status quo so long as no land-based or online casinos are housed within state boundaries.

Will You Get Arrested in Texas for Playing Online Blackjack?

You almost assuredly won’t be arrested for playing mobile blackjack in Texas. Law enforcement has never arrested anybody in the state for online gambling.

However, you could potentially be engaging in illegal gambling. After all, Texas law provides a generalized definition of what constitutes illegal betting. Online games of chance could possibly fit under this broad description.

I can’t absolutely guarantee that you won’t be arrested for playing online blackjack here. I’m nearly 100% sure, though, that you won’t get busted.

Millions of Texans engage in unregulated mobile gambling on a daily basis. None of them have been arrested for doing so either.

Law enforcement doesn’t appear to be actively looking for perpetrators either. They have much more important crimes to worry about than somebody enjoying internet casino games.

Will Texas Ever Consider Legalizing Casinos?

While Texas doesn’t have the greatest tolerance for gambling, it has recently had discussions on legalizing casinos. The Las Vegas Sands Corp. made a strong push to legalize commercial casinos here in 2021.

Sands poured millions of dollars into a huge advertising campaign for legal gaming. It also spent big on lobbying Texas politicians.

These efforts led to the first serious talks about regulating casinos in the Lone Star State. However, they ultimately proved fruitless as the proposed legislation didn’t receive a committee hearing.

The Sands-backed bill would’ve seen four casino resorts built near each of Texas’ four biggest cities. It didn’t have enough support to reach the House or Senate floor.

Texas State Flag

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was the biggest voice of opposition to the legislation. Patrick wasn’t in favor of allowing gaming and said that the bill wouldn’t receive enough support from the Senate.

Sands also failed to file the legislation within a timely manner. If filed sooner, it might have received more attention from a committee(s).

Sheldon Adelson, the late Sands CEO, passed away a few months before the legislation failed to pass. He was instrumental to the Texas casino push.

With Adelson now gone, it’s unclear who’ll carry the torch for legalizing casinos in the Lone Star State. Eventually, though, another casino corporation will push for gaming here.

Our Thoughts on Blackjack in Texas

Blackjack may not be legal in Texas right now. However, you do have a few routes for playing this game within the Lone Star State.

Online blackjack is the easiest and most convenient option. It’s available everywhere in Texas and allows you to play through a smartphone or computer.

The Kickapoo Lucky Eagle and Arkansas Queen cruise offer two more in-state options. The catch, though, is that they’re both located in the south part of Texas.

You can also visit bordering casinos and other states. These options are nice for when you want to enjoy live blackjack and are located near a neighboring state.

Texas has had serious discussions about legalizing casinos. Assuming they regulate casinos someday, then Texans will eventually be able to play blackjack legally.