Unlike other states in the Union, Texas has very clear rules and regulations concerning gambling and online gambling as a result. Under Texas statute, online gambling is not directly mentioned but the definitions of the law and the implementation of the law makes it clear that the statute extends to online gaming, including online poker.
At first, it might appear that Texas law is a blanket ban on all forms of gambling but there are codified exceptions to the law. For example, some greyhound betting and horse track betting is allowed, assuming the proper permits are applied for and received. In addition, the payouts come from the betting pool with the house not receiving a cut.
Other exceptions cover private poker games and charity functions. While permits are not required for private games that take place in the home, some charity auctions and raffles require a permit to remain in compliance with the law.
What is important, as it potentially relates to online gaming in general, the allowance of private poker games does not extend to online poker. The law as written, prohibits poker games outside of the private residence and the style of betting typically encountered therein. Currently, this has forced many Texas gamblers to seek games in offshore locations that fall outside the territorial jurisdiction of Texas.
Over the years, several attempts have been made to pass through legislation that would allow gambling and online gambling in specific. However, all attempts have been defeated at the State level. Primarily, due to opposition from various conservative elements as well as several nearby Casino operators in states bordering Texas. This is due to the perceived loss of gambling revenue to those operators should the law allow for open gaming. Still despite this opposition, further opposition occurs because in order to pass legislation to permit online gaming or other forms of gambling, a chance to the Constitution of Texas would be required.
Importantly, Native American tribal lands are not required to follow the same state and local laws and therefore have placed at least one Casino on tribal lands in Texas. This casino does offer poker rooms, however it is unknown as if computer access is also allowed to permit online poker access. Given the prevalence of internet access in hotels, it is conceivable that during a stay in such location, the activities of online poker and gambling in general would fall outside the normal jurisdiction of Texas and therefore be allowed.
To summarize, Texas laws prohibit gambling and online gambling in specific. However, there does seem to be small instances of workarounds such as accessing from tribal lands. As previously mentioned, some Texas gamblers have taken to using offshore sites, but the exact legality of that comes with some question.