Renewed attempt to get poker bill to a vote in the Texas House of Representatives

The Democratic Party Representative for Texas, Jose Menendez, has shrugged off the lapse of an earlier attempt to regulate poker in the committee stage of the Texas House (see previous InfoPowa reports) and has instead re-launched an amended bill HB222 that seeks to expand poker's availability in the state.

Titled the Poker Gaming Act of 2009, the new bill does not apply to the conduct of bingo, charitable raffles, the state lottery, or video poker, and requires that all poker gaming conducted in Texas and authorised by law shall be regulated and licensed by the Texas Lottery Commission, which will form a new inspectorate and licensing section for this purpose. The regulatory regime is tasked with regulating the game in an honest and competitive manner, and in such a way as to keep it free from criminal and other corruptive elements.

The bill covers application specifics for a range of poker providers that includes existing pari-mutuel outlets, tribal-gaming interests, bars and taverns, social clubs and other charitable organisations. And charitable organisations will not be permitted to deduct more than 30 percent of gross receipts for tournament expenses.

HB222 additionally seeks to introduce a Poker Gaming Revenue Fund, which will be used on mainly social projects associated with the Texas homeless.

Tournaments with buy-ins of up to $100, with no more than an additional $30 in registration fees are envisaged, along with licensing requirements for electronic poker tables. Other clauses go into the minutiae of frequency of deck changes, and bonus programs.

Interviewed by local radio station WOAI, Menendez said he is not interested in seeing "poker rooms on every corner around the state."

"My interest is in seeing places where people could play poker and feel safe," he said. "What I would like to see happen is that you could put together a statewide tournament, where people could be working together with one goal, like a Texas Hold 'em Championship for the state of Texas," he said.

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