Are Slot Machines Legal in Texas?

are slot machines legal in texas

Texas stands out as an anti-gambling state due to its stringent gambling laws and illegal gaming busts, leading to many efforts at circumvention by placing video gambling games at convenience stores or gas stations around town. But is such gambling allowed under Texas law? Well, that depends on the prizes on offer!

Texas generally prohibits gambling devices like eight-liners from offering cash prizes; however, there is an exemption known as the “fuzzy animal” exemption that permits machines to award non-cash prizes of less than $5.00.

That is why you may have encountered slot machines at gas stations and convenience stores; although the games themselves were legal, prizes that came from them were not. A court decision held that such machines violated state definition of lottery that must be approved via constitutional amendment.

Though the court ruling did not legalize eight-liners outright, it did represent an important step forward by allowing game rooms to operate under an exemption in law while their machines would be subject to a prize limit and player ability cap.

Since this ruling, lawmakers have attempted to pass legislation that would either include eight-liners in the Penal Code’s definition of gambling devices or remove them altogether from being exempt altogether. Unfortunately, none of these bills made it out of committee and into full vote status on the floor for debate or vote.

Although game rooms remain illegal in Texas, county governments and home rule cities do have the authority to oversee them. Companies engaging in eight-liner bingo must adhere to certain guidelines, such as offering prizes valued no higher than 10x the cost of one play or $5 (whichever comes first). Games must also take place in a private setting and be completely voluntary; otherwise, operators could face criminal prosecution for keeping a gambling place; this crime carries state jail felony punishment. However, this charge may be dropped if the prosecution cannot establish that an operator engaged in organized criminal activity. This distinction is key, since charges deemed organized can increase from state jail felony status to prison felony status; meaning even small game rooms could become targets for illegal activity and it becomes even more crucial to adhere to Texas state regulations when operating one.

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