A bill introduced by Texas Representative, Jose Menendez, passed through the Texas House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee yesterday. This is the first step in getting poker legalized and regulated throughout the state. The bill was passed by a vote of 6 to 3, along with an agreement that individual communities will be able to decide for themselves, through vote, whether or not to legalize the games within their jurisdictions.
“The vast majority of communities in Texas will hold successful elections allowing Texas Hold’em at specific locations,” said State Director of the Poker Players Alliance, Mike Lavigne, “This is a smart way to allow local control over what will quickly become an economic development issue.”
Playing poker isn’t necessarily illegal in Texas. However, if the “house” or whoever is running the game, as well as if the dealer, profits by way of fees or rake, then the game is illegal. The bill (HB 222) would give the Texas Lottery Commission control over licensing and regulating establishments to offer poker games for profit. By legalizing and regulating the games, the state will benefit greatly from the taxation of profits and collection of licensing fees. In turn, poker games will also be much safer for patrons, who up till now, may have engaged in illegal, unregulated games.
There are quite a few restrictions placed on the poker games that would be allowed under the law. For instance, tournaments would be limited to a maximum buy-in of $100 +$30, and bad beat jackpots would be maxed out at $250 payouts. However, it is still a solid step in the right direction and one that hopefully could be used as an example in the argument of legalizing and regulating online poker throughout the United States.