Are Slot Machines Legal in Texas?

Texas state law states that it is illegal for anyone under 21 years old and located within a licensed casino to play slot machines; however there are exceptions. These may include:

Texas boasts some of the strictest gambling laws in the country. While placing bets on horse races or purchasing lottery tickets are legal activities, operating or owning machines that pay out money are illegal activities in Texas. Furthermore, numerous regulations must be observed when operating slot machines within this state.

However, some owners of eight-liners still assert their devices are legal in their state by using the “fuzzy animal exception” to award cashless prizes. Unfortunately, this claim has been challenged in court.

Eight-liner machines resemble slot machines and can be found throughout Texas bars, restaurants and game rooms. These electronic devices pay out prizes that range from candy and gift cards to cash; however, an ongoing lawsuit against these devices could soon have them removed altogether from use in Texas.

Fort Worth’s lawsuit filed against two owners of eight-liner machines seeks to determine whether these devices are banned under Occupations Code regulations, specifically whether eight-liner machines that dispense gift certificates or redeemable items violate state law, as well as whether any law that restricts gambling near Chuck E. Cheese restaurants violates First Amendment rights for those who operate these machines.

It is not the first time that an eight-liners case has come before the courts. In 2022, police arrested three men and one woman at a Shisha Smoke Shop and Game Room in Corpus Christi after receiving allegations they were providing cash prizes on eight-liners. Undercover investigations were conducted as well as seizure of equipment used for playing such eight-liners.

Although slot machines at gas stations are legal to operate legally, giving away cash prizes on them may be considered gambling under state law and could result in up to one year in jail and/or fines for business owners who violate it.

Businesses wishing to avoid being charged with this crime should ensure their eight-liners only dispense prizes that are cashless or worth less than $5. The state Department of Public Safety conducts undercover investigations at gas stations, truck stops and game rooms across Texas in order to monitor compliance with gambling laws; however some business owners believe these regulations are too restrictive and unfairly target smaller operations; as a result, some have begun fighting back against government efforts at regulating gaming industry by seeking changes that would give more freedom of choice in gaming industry operations.