Texas Representative Jose Menendez (D- San Antonio) introduced a bill, HB 222 – also known as the Poker Gaming Act of 2008, back in November of last year. By the end of the day today, Texas poker players hope that they will legally be allowed to play poker in the state that made Hold’em famous.
The 70-page bill looks to legalize and regulate live poker (it specifically excludes video poker) and spells out who would benefit from the poker revenues and how. Menendez also suggested some of the types of establishments that might be licensed to host poker games, including Indian tribes, bars and taverns, charitable organizations, and pari-mutuel establishments (such as card rooms). Those who are granted licenses will report to and be regulated by the Texas Lottery Commission.
There is a lot of important verbiage in the bill, which may be used in the larger U.S. arguments for legalizing and regulating poker. Although this bill is specifically for live poker, much of it may carry over to the Internet world. Specifically, the bill states, “The legislature finds and declares it to be the public policy of this state that: poker is a game of skill and not a lottery or gift enterprise prohibited by the Texas Constitution; unregulated poker gaming conducted by unlicensed operators in public establishments is inimical to the public health, safety, welfare, and good order.”
It goes on to say, “The regulation of poker gaming in this state is important to ensure that poker gaming: is conducted honestly and competitively; and is free from criminal and other corruptive elements; public confidence and trust can be maintained only by strict regulation of all persons, location, practices, associations, and activities related to the conduct of poker gaming and the poker gaming service industry.”
Many of the same arguments have been made by proponents of licensing and regulating online poker sites . Barney Frank is reportedly supposed to introduce legislation that would begin the process of legalizing and regulating online poker by repealing the UIGEA. This was supposed to be done during the month of March, however, there are only a few working days left in March. The legislation is still expected to be introduced in the next few weeks, though.