Texas Legislation Addresses Both Live and Online Poker



Despite sharing a name with one of the most popular games in the world, Texas is notorious for its exclusion of poker within its borders. That could soon change thanks to a few new measures being introduced in the Lone Star state.

The first is State of Texas Ballot Measure SJR No. 43, alongside State Bill No. 1103, both by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, which offer a "constitutional amendment to authorize online poker gaming regulated under federal law." The joint resolution—a legislative measure that must be approved by the Senate and House before being presented to the president—essentially proposes a constitutional amendment to authorize federally regulated online poker and provides for a state constitutional amendment that would see Texas opt-in if and when a federal licensing program for the operation of online poker facilities is enacted. The measure also allows for any state to apply the federal law if and when it becomes available.

If a federal law is not passed, the joint resolution provides for Texas to offer online poker through its state agency-run lottery system, if voters approve the measure in an election to be held Nov. 5, 2013. Despite being considered a long shot, the joint resolution shows that online poker legislation, which was recently passed by New Jersey, is on the mind of Texas lawmakers.

As if that weren’t enough, House Bill No. 2098 and House Bill No. 292 are also pending action. The latter provides for “regulated poker gaming” at licensed gambling facilities, though the bill has remained stagnant since its introduction last December. Meanwhile, House Bill No. 2098, which was filed on Feb. 28 by Rep. Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City), seeks to legalize “social poker gaming,” which would allow certain licensed establishments to offer poker to “registered players” while profiting without collecting a rake. They would do so through membership fees and food sales.

Whether or not these measures move forward remains to be seen, but you can add Texas, which is home to 26 million people, to the list of states considering online poker.

*Lead photo courtesy of 4teachers.org.

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