While many states in the US are now advancing to legalizing online poker and casinos in their jurisdictions, Texas remain one of the more conservative states unable to put together a solid and regulated gambling environment.
Poker Clubs Open And Close Quickly In Texas
Currently, the Texas Penal code has in place a vague and rudimentary set of rules concerning gambling. According to the parameters set by the law, a gambling activity can be legally held as long as it meets these three criteria: one, that the activity should be held in a private place; two, that no one else receives money apart from personal winnings; and three, that all participants have an equal chance of winning aside from taking into consideration the odds of skill and luck.
Because of these vague rules, many poker clubs have tried to circumvent the Texan gambling laws—only to be closed after some time.
Some of these poker clubs who tried to offer the game to their fellow Texans were Rounders Poker Club and Kingdom’s Poker Club, both were greenlit by city officials to operate. After the clubs gained momentum and patronage, law enforcement started closing in on the clubs and pressured them to remove their door charges. The owners of the clubs yielded despite the fact that door fees are the only thing that keep the clubs from running out of cash. Those who continue to advertise cash games and tournaments with rakes for the club have been shut down.
Texas Gambling Legislation Makes No Progress
For years, Texas has been trying to change the set of rules that govern gambling in the state—not only for poker but for other forms of gambling as well. Legislators tried to introduce gambling bills to their legislative in order to regulate the proliferation of many underground games and bring back the countless numbers of Texans who would drive to the borders to play.
The last time some semblance of a Texas poker bill got any traction in the legislative dates back to 2009, when House Bill 222 tried to legalize poker games and tournaments as long as it is held under the supervision of the Texas Lottery Commission. When it became evident that then Gov. Rick Perry would veto any gambling legislation and that the House would not support it, the proponent of the bill, Texas State Rep. Jose Menendez, elected to suspend his bill.
Outside of poker, one of the most recent efforts to put some structure into gambling came and died last year, when a bill that would have legalized fantasy sports like those offered by DraftKings and FanDuel got held up before it reached the House floor.
During the flight of the fantasy sports bill last year, state representative Richard Raymond, D-Laredo, and state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham argued that daily fantasy sports should be legal because it is a skill-based sport. Despite the fact that the bill had some bipartisan support, just online gambling legislation did, the bill went down the drain. According to Raymond, he will once again try to file a bill in the 2019 legislative session.
No Chance For Brick & Mortar Casinos Too
Proposals for brick and mortar casinos have also been aggressively pushed in recent times but they have met with the same fate. According to proponents of brick-and-mortar casinos, allowing casinos in the state would solve the budget deficit and generate more than $1 billion in taxes every year.
In fact, more than $2.5 billion a year is spent by Texans in casinos located in nearby states such as Louisiana and Oklahoma. This proves that there is a demand for gambling in the state but no semblance of supply.
In a statement, Corey Nation, executive director of the nonprofit group Poker In Texas said “There is a real market demand in Texas for poker and venues to play and compete. We need to find a solution to the flood of economic activity that is fleeing our state because the laws do not reflect the markets that exist.”
In 201, five bills were introduced to the Senate and the House of Representatives regarding casino gaming. House Joint Resolution 119 wanted to let Texans to vote on whether gaming in 12 casinos in the state should be allowed. HJR 90 wanted to permit casino gambling in the state to generate funding for remaining windstorm insurance coverage in coastal areas. HJR 59 and SJR 39 wanted Texans to vote on whether they should allow the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe to put up gaming sites in the state. HJR 55 echoed the prior bill and wanted Texans to vote on the establishment of a state gaming commission and new gaming regulations that would have let Indian tribes to offer gaming services on Indian land in Texas.
But with Gov. Greg Abbott at the helm, a Republican who has publicly said that he is not looking to change the current gaming legislation structure, legislators may not be able to move forward with any positive gambling legislation anytime soon.

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