Time Expires for Texas Poker Bills
With a number of initiatives aimed at bringing legal live poker and regulated online poker to the state of Texas, poker players were hoping to see at least a modicum of legislative progress on their pet issue during the current State Assembly session.
But those hopes remain just that, as a key deadline for bills to advance out of committee has now come and gone without any poker-related bills managing to do so.
Those who call for clearly regulated poker – both live and online – argue that it would allow players to choose an option other than the notorious underground games conducted in cities and towns across Texas. As participants and news reports tell it, these games are often crooked, frequently violent affairs that put players at unnecessary risk. Offer regulated games, supporters posit, and the illegal games – and the criminal element they’re alleged to support – will dry up immediately.
The list of bills related to poker and gambling expansion in Texas was a long and varied one for the opening session of 2013. That’s not an unusual state of affairs, as calls for more regulated gambling in the Lone Star State have been growing since the 1980s.
What set 2013 apart for previous years was the inclusion of multiple initiatives addressing online gambling – specifically, online poker.
It does not appear that online poker was uniquely noxious to state legislators – rather, the situation seems to be that any type of gambling expansion faces insurmountable political hurdles. Both the Texas House and the State Senate of Texas are controlled by wide Republican majorities that tend to view gambling as a moral issue.
Proponents of regulated gambling fare no better when it comes to the Governor’s mansion in Austin, as Gov. Rick Perry has been little but hostile to the suggestion of increased gambling within the borders of Texas.
For online poker players in Texas, the regional picture for regulated online poker doesn’t appear to be much brighter. New Mexico and Arkansas have shown absolutely no interest in any sort of online gambling. Oklahoma could see online gambling via tribal offerings, but that will will be a long and complex road that could take years to resolve.
One neighboring state that might offer a touch of potential is Louisiana, where lawmakers are slowly advancing a proposal to study the possibility of regulating poker games played online. No doubt the presence of multiple commercial operators in Louisiana – such as Caesars – could accelerate the process if online gambling proves profitable in states where it has already been regulated, such as New Jersey and Nevada.