The lawmakers of Texas are going to consider a new poker bill, sponsored by Senator Eddie Rodriguez, in early 2013. This bill proposes the regulation of live poker games while making all other varieties of poker gaming, including online poker gaming, illegal. Electronic poker tables, which were advocated in a previous poker bill that had failed, will also be declared illegal.
Rodriguez’ bill also calls for the formation of a new division for poker in the Texas Lottery Commission although it states that poker is a game of skill and strategy, not chance. The bill permits existing tribal interests, pari-mutuel facilities, and bingo halls to apply for a poker license. While pari-mutuel facilities and tribes could run poker games for 24 hours per day, bingo halls will be allowed to offer poker games only during the time they usually remain open.
The bill is in favor of cash games with limitless buy-ins and 10% rake up to $4. It also permits poker tournaments, but proposes a maximum buy-in of $100, which would make it very unattractive for major poker tours. Promotional jackpots and bad beat jackpots are also permitted in this bill.
If the bill is passed into law, gambling operators will have to pay a maximum tax of 18% on their gross revenues. A part of these taxes will be directed to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to be used for the benefit of the state’s low-income and homeless people.
Rodriguez’ bill aims at eradicating illegal poker games, which do not fetch the state any tax revenues. Although Texas has no dearth of illegal poker venues, it has only one legal poker outlet—the poker room of Lucky Eagle Casino, which is located at Eagle Pass close to the Mexico-Texas border.
This poker bill will be considered as soon as the legislature of Texas re-opens in January 2013; however, only time can tell whether the poker bill will be passed into law. Although Texas is the mother of one of the most popular poker variants in the world, called Texas Hold’em Poker, its attitude toward poker gaming is far from friendly. Texas is the home of individuals and organizations that are strongly against gambling in general and playing poker in particular. The state has made a number of efforts to legalize and regulate its poker industry in the past, but had to bow to the wishes of its anti-gaming interests.