Legal gambling venues in the Lone Star State are fairly limited. While Texas allows gambling at racetracks, there is presently no casino gambling. Game rooms are permitted to operate in the state if they include more than four "amusement redemption machines," offering some sort of prize to winners, but they can't offer cash prizes. Local statutes govern the operation of gaming rooms, strictly regulating who can run such facilities and the licenses required.
In Houston, legal game rooms must label the entrance to the facility as a "game room." Transparent windows on the game room building are required, so any passersby can clearly see what's occurring inside the premises. Game room officials must allow law enforcement personnel to inspect the site at any time. Under state law, the value of non-cash prizes can't exceed $5. Before issuing a permit to run a game room, the city conducts a background check on the applicant. Houston officials must issue a certificate of occupancy for the proposed gaming room.
Illegal Gaming Penalties
Under Texas law, a person who unlawfully allows gambling to take place in a building or on property he owns or controls can be charged with a class A misdemeanor. If convicted, he faces a fine of up to $4,000 and a jail term of up to one year.
A graduate of New York University, Jane Meggitt writes regularly for various legal blogs. Her work has appeared in LegalZoom, USA Today and many other publications.