Texas Card Rooms Will Get More Protection If the Proposed Gambling Bill Passes

Texas poker clubs will get extra protection once a proposed gambling bill passes. The state has strict betting regulations in the country. Local politicians have thoroughly scrutinized more than ten poker rooms in the Lone Star State and taken legal action on some of them.

The state’s card rooms have different operations, unlike those in most U.S. states, since gambling is illegal. The rooms have seat and membership fees that players need to pay to access them rather than collecting rake. Even so, some local lawmakers claim this business model violates gambling laws.

Texas Card House, San Antonio Card House, Champions Club, and the Lodge Card Club are the largest poker rooms in Texas. They are supporting the bill that will redefine the state’s gambling law clarifying poker clubs’ legality.

Will the Bill Change the Texas Gambling Industry?

Some local politicians are opposing the business model because of the Texas Penal Code 47.04. one part of the law states that gambling should be in a private place, and the other one indicates that personal winnings are the only economic benefit that games can offer.

Even so, it isn’t clear whether a membership-based club is one of the private places and games will offer an economic benefit even if a rake hasn’t been drawn. This debate is likely to end shortly if the Texans For Hold’em, a group that the four leading card rooms organized, succeeds.

Representative Ryan Guillen (D) sponsored House Bill 2345. It was filed on February 15 and presented to the Licensing and Administrative Procedures committee on March 9.

Representative Jose Menendez (D) sponsored SB 1681 and filed it on March 6. It is a pro-poker bill that might change local poker rooms by amending the “economic benefit” and “private place” definitions.

SB 1681 will add subdivision 2-a in the Texas Penal Code’s Chapter 27 if it passes and define economic benefits as direct winnings that a player gets from a luck or skill game. Yet, it excludes the benefit one gets before a game starts or its direct winnings’ payment.

The proposed legislation will redefine “private place” in subdivision 8 as a place that people without prior permission, a special invitation, or a valid membership cannot access. It excludes nightclubs, highways, taverns, restaurants, streets, schools, and hospitals.

The bill will end the debate on whether card rooms’ social poker club model is legal in Texas. Besides, it will prevent authorities from fining poker rooms with legal operations. The proposed amendment doesn’t allow gambling in the Lone Star State as collecting poker pots’ rakes, and setting up slot machines and table games will still be illegal.

What Is the Bill’s Passing Probability?

Ryan Crow, Texas Card House CEO, has tried to redefine Texas’ gambling laws. His Dallas card room was charged in 2022 despite having a valid gambling license.

The executive has been in several lawsuits and almost lost the card room in 2022 after the state revoked its Certificate of Occupancy. It operates in five regions and partnered with The Lodge in Round Rock that Andrew Neeme, Brad Owen, and Doug Polk co-own, in December 2022 to form the Texans For Hold’em and promote poker.

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