Unlike the progressive legislation we have seen in other states throughout the country over the past decade, Texas continues to take a rather conservative approach to all things gambling. As such, as of January 2024, the Lone Star state prohibits full-scale casinos, instead allowing a few Class II Indian reservation casinos throughout the state.
According to Class II legislation, only bingo-style slot machines and non-banked card games (poker) are permitted. Even the three Indian casinos that operate throughout the state of Texas have faced legal challenges since their inception, leaning on federal law to override state legislators.
One of Texas’ fastest-growing cities hopes to change all of that, however, as we take a closer look at the current state of casinos in Austin.
Are there any casinos in Austin?
No, there are no casinos in Austin as of early 2024, with the closest one being Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino Hotel in Eagle Pass, TX. Nearly 230 miles away, Austinites must make the four-hour drive if they want to play the bingo-style slot machines.
There is a form of gambling, however, that Austin residents can partake in, which is poker. Currently, poker operates in a gray area in Texas law, as it is not explicitly legal, but law enforcement has not taken a stance on shutting down operations.
The state of Texas has a long history in the poker industry, inventing the game of Texas Hold’em in the early 20th century and being the home of some of the game’s most legendary players such as Doyle Brunson.
Are any land-based casinos opening in Austin soon?
No, there are currently no plans for land-based casinos to open in Austin anytime soon, as state lawmakers have up to this point taken an ultra-conservative approach when it comes to legalizing gambling of any kind. In early 2023, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan campaigned for “destination-style” casinos to open in the state, but the legislation still has a long way to go.
For gamblers in the state looking to get involved in any form of gambling, they have to visit one of the state's four horse race tracks or three casinos throughout the state.
In terms of proximity to the state’s capital of Austin, residents of the city have to travel nearly 230 miles to Eagle Pass, TX to visit Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino Hotel. Even there, the only thing Austinites can get that they don’t have locally is bingo-style slot machines.
Casino games you could play at casinos in Austin if they open
For the optimists in the state, it’s just a matter of time before gambling legislation passes in the Lone Star State. Let’s take a closer look at the casino games you could play at casinos in Austin if they open in the future.