Texas has a storied but complicated history with horse betting, the legal status being a point of contention for decades. While pari-mutuel and racetrack betting are legal, off-track and online horse betting are still prohibited. In this piece, we’ll take a look at the role horse racing has played in Texas’ betting landscape and what is coming in the days ahead for the industry.
Is horse betting legal in Texas?
Horse betting is legal in Texas to a degree: pari-mutuel wagering is allowed, as is betting while at the track, but online horse betting is still against the law.
Texas approved pari-mutuel wagering following a referendum in 1987, but it was outlawed for 50 years before that. Additionally, a follow-up referendum in 1991 allowed for simulcast betting, but in-person wagering is still the requirement.
Following the 1987 referendum, several racetracks opened in Texas. They serve the metropolitan areas around Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, making horse betting more widely available. In the years after they opened, the Texas racetracks enjoyed a surge in popularity. However, in recent years that progress has stalled.
Manor Downs racetrack is permanently closed, while the courses at Laredo Downs and Valle de los Toseros looked promising but never opened for business.
Attendances have stabilized at a level somewhat short of their 1990s peaks, and there is little sign of any new race facilities opening in the near future.
Perhaps this stagnation will encourage lawmakers to review whether allowing online sports betting in Texas might provide a stimulus for the racing industry across the state.
Best online horse race betting sites that might come to Texas
Most top betting sites offer online wagers on horse races. That’s great news for bettors who wish to integrate their Texas sportsbook, racebook, and casino play across one operator.
If and when Texas legalizes online sports betting and expands to offer online horse racing, we could look forward to some of these big names going live in the state.