Texas Criminal Law

The Gambling crime in the state of Texas makes gambling on a game, contest, individual in a contest, a card game, or any political election illegal. Learn more detailed information about the Gambling offense below.

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Gambling is classified in the Texas Penal Code under Title X “Offenses Against Public Health, Safety, And Morals,” Chapter 47 “Gambling.”

What is the current Texas law about Gambling?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Gambling in Penal Code Section §47.02 as follows:[1]

(a) A person commits an offense if he:

(1) makes a bet on the partial or final result of a game or contest or on the performance of a participant in a game or contest;

(2) makes a bet on the result of any political nomination, appointment, or election or on the degree of success of any nominee, appointee, or candidate; or

(3) plays and bets for money or other thing of value at any game played with cards, dice, balls, or any other gambling device.

There are numerous defense to prosecution under this law.[2] These defenses include private gambling (where everyone had equal odds of success), participation in the state lottery and machines “excluded from the definition of ‘gambling device’ under Section 47.01(4)(B)”

How can I be charged with Gambling?

You can be charged with Gambling if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 47.02(a) as described in the section above have been met.

What is the punishment for Gambling?

A conviction for Gambling is punished as a Class C misdemeanor,[3] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $500. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors

Legal References:

^1. Texas Penal Code §47.02^2. Texas Penal Code §47.02(b),(c) & (e)

(b) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:

(1) the actor engaged in gambling in a private place;

(2) no person received any economic benefit other than personal winnings; and

(3) except for the advantage of skill or luck, the risks of losing and the chances of winning were the same for all participants.

(c) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor reasonably believed that the conduct:

(1) was permitted under Chapter 2001, Occupations Code;

(2) was permitted under Chapter 2002, Occupations Code;

(3) was permitted under Chapter 2004, Occupations Code;

(4) consisted entirely of participation in the state lottery authorized by the State Lottery Act (Chapter 466, Government Code);

(5) was permitted under the Texas Racing Act (Article 179e, Vernon’s Texas Civil Statutes); or

(6) consisted entirely of participation in a drawing for the opportunity to participate in a hunting, fishing, or other recreational event conducted by the Parks and Wildlife Department.

Subsection (e) describes another defense.

(e) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that a person played for something of value other than money using an electronic, electromechanical, or mechanical contrivance excluded from the definition of “gambling device” under Section 47.01(4)(B).

^3. Texas Penal Code §47.02(d)

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