With other popular cities such as Dallas and San Antonio residing in Texas, Houston sometimes finds itself flying below the radar. However, the sports culture in the city is stronger than ever with major sports franchises ranging across multiple professions. Recently, the city took a major hit as disaster struck due to a hurricane. However, the city banded together, and the sports teams have shined through the hard times.
The sports teams in the city of Houston are as talented as they come and over the years the franchises have seen great success come and go. The Texans have joined the NFL just recently and in recent years have been getting closer and closer to that Super Bowl Championship. The Rockets are always in the hunt, and the Astros have absolutely had their ups and downs throughout the team's history. Regardless of how well the teams do, the city is there to support them and remain loyal to their teams!
In the article below, we will be going over everything you need to know about betting on sports, casinos, and online gambling in Houston. We will cover all of the teams that compete in the city, the casinos you can visit, horse tracks, and the laws that surround it. Like most cities, the laws and regulations surrounding gambling and sports betting are likely to be changed around since the nationwide ban on the activity was lifted. With that being said, we will do our best to go over everything as it currently stands in the city.
Houston Online Gambling Legislation Overview
As with any city, we first need to take a look at what is legal and what is not. We will look at all the options for gambling, sports betting, lottery, horse racing, and everything else that you can and can't do in the city of Houston.
What is Legal
First, we are going to look at what is legal to do in Houston. Everything in this next section is free and clear and will not expose you to any fines. So, let's take a look!
Charitable gambling is huge in the state of Texas and the state contains over 1,227 charitable bingo nights per year. Houston is a hotbed for Charitable Bingo as is most of the state.
Horse and Dog Racing
Horse and dog racing is indeed legal and operates in the city of Houston. The state of Texas legalized pari-mutuel gambling in 1933 in an attempt to raise funds during the Great Depression.
Land-Based casinos are legal on tribal lands in Texas, and when it comes to Houston, the only real opportunities close by are with private poker clubs scattered around the city. Even these are prohibited unless they do not charge a rake.
If you are unsure, Eight Liners are gaming machines that are mostly found in places like gas stations, convenience stores, and sometimes barrooms. They are similar to slot machines, and they payout in prizes that do not involve cash. Instead, the prizes are things like grocery items, lottery tickets, gas refills, or scratch off tickets. In Texas, Eight-Liner machines are a huge business and have a turnover of over 2 billion dollars every year.
Lottery betting is alive and well in Texas as well as the city of Houston. You must be 18 years or older in order to play the lottery, and you have options such as State Lottery, Powerball, and of course the Mega Millions.
Poker rooms are legal in Houston as long as they do not charge a rake. Sometimes, these poker rooms can try to skate the rules and wind up getting raided by the police. So, you should always take extra precaution and make absolutely sure what you are getting involved in before taking part in any of these poker rooms.
What is Not Legal
Now that we know what we are allowed to do in Houston, let's take a look at what will get you into trouble should you participate in these activities. As we know, Texas really takes a hard stand on online gambling and sports betting, and these rules aren't likely to change anytime soon.
In Houston, land-based gambling rules are extremely restrictive and only available on Indian Reservations. So, it comes as no surprise that gambling online or playing online poker is completely illegal in the city. However, offshore gambling and gaming sites can be used as long as they are located somewhere that online gambling is legal.
Unfortunately for sports bettors in Houston, the practice is illegal in the state of Texas, and there are no physical locations available to place bets. Online sports betting is illegal unless you are using an offshore website.
Charging a Rake on Organized Poker
As we mentioned before, there are poker rooms located in the state of Texas, and they are legal. Of course, you cannot charge a rake on the games. If you do, you are operating or playing in an illegal operation!
Off-track betting is not permitted in Houston, and while the race tracks in Texas, as well as Houston, have simulcasting, there are no off-track betting facilities that are available to Houston residents.
Houston Sports Betting
As we stated above, laws for sports betting in Houston are hoping for a welcomed change; however, there is not a lot of buzz around the idea of opening any sportsbooks in the Lone Star State. Until they do hop aboard the sports betting train, the only options for making sports bets in the entire state of Texas are with offshore websites. With that being said, some of the possible locations for sportsbooks in the state most likely will revolve around the two Indian Tribe casinos. Unfortunately, these are not within close proximity to Houston. We will go over some other places to place bets and wagers in and around the Houston area below.
As we all know, the state of Texas is massive! So, you would think that there would be plenty of options for casinos and gaming. However, with rules and regulations so strict in the lone star state, only two casinos reside in all of Texas. None of these even being close to Houston. The two casinos in the state of Texas are the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino and Naskila Entertainment. Both of these casinos are owned and operated by Indian Tribes on Indian Reservations. The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, operators of Naskila Entertainment, are currently locked in a legal battle with the state of Texas to open another casino on their lands. However, their efforts are not making a whole lot of progress. For Houston residents, private clubs that offer private poker games are pretty much the best option for getting in a night of wagering. Below, you will find two great options for getting in a couple hands.
The Mint Poker club is a private organization that requires a paid membership to attend. The facility is protected by armed guards and also hosts the Texas State Poker Championships. At Mint Poker, members can enjoy not only an excellent poker room but also billiards and a sports lounge. For the most part, Mint Poker is a social club and since charging a rake on poker games is illegal in the state of Texas, it is one of the only options for playing hands of poker with your friends. A membership at Mint Poker costs around 50 dollars and must be paid monthly. With your membership, you have access to all of the amenities of Mint Poker, including complimentary High-Speed Wifi, options to host private and charitable events, as well as guest privileges. You can access the club 24/7 and can park in a well-lit parking lot with an abundance of spaces.
Hobby Poker Lounge
The Hobby Poker Lounge is another private club that offers poker players a chance to get involved in a variety of cash games and tournaments exclusive to its members. Probably the most popular cash game hosted at Hobby Poker Lounge is No limit Texas Hold'Em. The lounge hosts a poker night every Sunday from 8 pm to 5 am requires a 40 dollar buy-in. With Texas law explicitly prohibiting direct costs for activities that involve gambling in the state, Hobby Poker Lounge does not participate in collecting and rake, gambling fees, odds, or wagers. Therefore, they can operate freely as a private club. The Hobby Poker Lounge also offers a great menu and has plenty of drink options to keep you content for the entirety of your poker tournaments, which is always a plus!
Houston Online Casinos and Sportsbooks
Unfortunately, if you are a resident of the great city of Phoenix, sports betting at any physical location is illegal and not available anywhere in Arizona. With the exception of horse racing, no forms of sports betting either online or at a physical location has yet to be legalized. It is, however, expected to change in the coming year or two. But, until it does, the people of Phoenix will be stuck opening accounts with offshore websites. It is highly recommended to hold off until the state opens some of their own sportsbooks and passes the law as opposed to creating accounts with sketchy, offshore sites!
Houston Horse Racing Tracks
Horse racing is legal and in the city of Houston and has been for quite a while. The state of Texas legalized pari-mutuel gambling in 1933 in an attempt to raise funds during the Great Depression. While Texas has a number of horse and dog racing tracks throughout the state, Sam Houston Race Park is the closest one to the city. Below, we will take a look at this race track and its history.
Sam Houston Race Park
When Sam Houston Race Park opened its doors in April of 1994, it became the first Class 1 venue for Texas horse racing ever constructed. While it was costly to build, ranging up to 90 million dollars, the Sam Houston Race Park is considered by many to be the fastest growing thoroughbred racetrack according to its attendance records in recent years. The park was named after the historic and influential Texan, Sam Houston, who was a great general and went on to become the president of the Republic of Texas. The course consists of a 1-mile dirt track as well as a 7-furlong turf course. The thoroughbred racing season takes place between the months of January and February and the Quarter horses race between run between March and June. Some of the most profitable races that are held at the track are as follows:
- John B. Connally Turf Cup
- MAXXAM Gold Cup
- Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint
- Sam Houston Sprint Cup
- Sam Houston Futurity
- B.O.A TX Challenge Championship
IN 2000, Sam Houston also purchased the Valley Race Park. The Valley Race Park is a popular greyhound racing track located in Harlingen, Texas. When the racing season comes to a close at the Sam Houston Race Park, the venue also hosts events such as music festivals and other large gatherings.
Houston Online Poker Options
In the state of Texas, no state-wide regulation of online poker or online gambling has managed to get passed. However, there are no laws in Texas that do not allow citizens to participate in real money poker games online. While online poker will hopefully be regulated in Houston one day, the people of this city do have plenty of options for offshore, real-money poker websites. These sites are available to almost anyone in the United States and give poker fans plenty of options for online play.
Houston Professional Sports Teams
As we mentioned above, sports are a major part of what makes the city of Houston tick. With a professional team in baseball, basketball, football, and soccer, it is no surprise that fans pour into stadiums to check out their favorite teams compete. Their professional soccer team broke records after moving to Houston, and the Astros won the World Series just recently in 2017. In the article below, we will be going over all of the major sports franchises in the city and what they have accomplished since they got their start at the professional level.
The Houston Astros are a professional baseball team in Major League Baseball (MLB) that compete in the American League West Division of the league. The franchise was founded in 1962 and played their first season that same year as the Houston Colt .45s. The tea changed their name to reflect the cities role as the center of space exploration with their famous space program. The Astros are headquartered out of Houston, Texas and play all of their home games in Minute Maid Park after moving there from the Astrodome in 1999.
While the Houston Astros aren't exactly what you would consider a baseball dynasty and don't have the same resume as a team like the New York Yankees, the Astros defied the odds in the 2017 season and won their very first World Series Championship. Not only was this the first World Series victory for the city of Houston, but also for the state of Texas as a whole! This came after winning their first AL Pennant making them one for one with their World Series appearances.
The Houston Texans are a professional football team in the National Football League (NFL) that compete in the AFC South Division of the league. The franchise was founded very recently in 2002 and played their first season that same year making them the youngest franchise currently competing in the National Football League. The Texans are headquartered out of Houston, Texas and play all of their home games in NRG Stadium. The team replaced the Houston Oilers after the franchise was moved to Nashville becoming the Tennessee Titans. The franchise was founded by Bob McNair who operated the team until his death in 2018.
The Texans got off to a rocky start and did not compete well in its early stages. However, as they began to piece together their roster and get the coaching they needed to succeed, the Texans slowly became more and more competitive as the years went on. While the team remains the only franchise to never play in a conference championship game, they have won their division five times since 2011. For the Texans, it is only a matter of time before they put everything together and take that final step to becoming Super Bowl Champs!
The Houston Rockets are a professional basketball team in the National Basketball Association that compete in the Western Conference Southeast Division of the league. The franchise was founded in 1967 and played their first season that same year. The Rockets are headquartered out of Houston, Texas and play all of their home games in the Toyota Center.
The Rockets got their start in San Diego as the San Diego Rockets in 1967 before moving over to Houston. After the move, the Rockets were able to take home four conference titles from 1981 to 1995. Two of those conference title years resulted in NBA Titles after winning it all in 1994 and 1995. In recent years, the Rockets have been highly competitive just barely missing out on the NBA championship series after winning the division in 2018 and 2019.
The Houston Dynamos are a professional soccer team in Major League Soccer that competes in the Western Conference of the league. The franchise was founded in 2005 and played their first season the next year in 2006. The Dynamos are headquartered out of Houston, Texas and play all of their home games in the BBVA Stadium. The team has multiple owners including boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya and NBA superstar James Harden. Originally, the Dynamos was to become the San Jose Earthquake. But after failed attempts at locking down a stadium for the team to compete in, the franchise moved to Houston.
In the teams first two seasons they were not only successful but became the league champions winning the MLS World Cup back-to-back in 2006 and 2007. The Houston Dynamos won the U.S. Open Cup in 2018 and were the first American soccer club to punch in a goal on Mexican soil in the CONCACAF Champions League between 2008 and 2017.
Houston Sports Betting Communities, Bars, Forums, and Blogs
As with any massively popular city with multiple options for sports and teams to cheer on, Houston has a pretty sound sports culture amongst the city. So, it is no surprise that sports bars, blogs, and even communities have sprung up everywhere that keep the fans, as well as the sports bettors of Houston, informed on where their teams are at and how they are looking going forward. In the section below, we will be going over all of the nooks and crannies of the city that allow fans and sports bettors to get the latest news and updates on what is going on with the sports teams of the city.
With being just minutes away from the home of the Houston Texans, the Braeswood place neighborhood has to come in as one of the top neighborhoods for sports in all of Houston. The neighborhood has a mix of sports bars and residentials that make for easy access to the folks who reside here. Some of the best sports bars near the Braeswood Place neighborhood include:
- Little Woodrows Bellaire
- On the Kirb
- The Duck Off Sports Bar
With both Minute Maid Park and the Toyota Center in the heart of the city, Downtown Houston is probably the best place to be for sports fans in Houston. There are obviously plenty of options for bars and restaurants in the Downtown neighborhood. See below:
- Live Sports Bar and Grill
- Lucky's Pub
Online Sports Blogs and Betting Forums
As with most cities, there are plenty of blogs and forums online to keep up to date with the latest news for Houston sports. Below, we have listed a few of the most popular blogs the residents of Houston can use to stay in tune with their home teams.
- House of Houston – All around Houston sports blog
- The Dream Shake – Houston Rockets blog
- Space City Scoop – Rockets Sports blog
- Battle Red Blog – Texans sports blog
Photo by Alexander Londoño