Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have a Bill!

by , Mar 8, 2007 | 3:44 pm

HB 3186 was filed today in the Texas House. If you want to play poker in Texas legally, this is the best flag we have to fight under. I encourage you to read the bill or at least the press release pasted below.

This is going to be a tough, potentially long fight. I’ll begin posting more regularly as our bill moves through the Legislature. The first step will be to get a hearing in the House committee after it is referred. HB 3186 should be referred to committee early next week.

When the hearing date approaches we will need as many folks as possible to congregate at the capitol and attend the hearing. Details to come on that.

In the meantime, the press release is below. Feel free to send Representative Menendez an email thanking him for filing such a great bill.

My html skill is akin to that of a 5-year-old, so please pardon my lack of fancy formatting:

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Mike Lavigne
March 8, 2007 512-917-7614

Poker Bill Dealt to Texas House

Austin, TX// Legislation was filed in the Texas House today seeking to regulate the game of poker in Texas. HB 3186 defines poker as a game of skill and lays out a comprehensive set of parameters for the game thousands of Texans play every day. The bill was filed by Representative Jose Menendez (D) of San Antonio.

“This legislation could raise over a billion dollars over the next biennium for state coffers while bringing the game out of legal limbo and into the light,” said Mike Lavigne, treasurer of the Texas Poker PAC. “Texas would finally be able to benefit from rise of Texas Hold’em”

HB 3186 would allow up to four live or electronic poker tables at establishments meeting stringent requirements and task the Lottery Commission with deciding the number of tables allowed at racetracks.

Additionally, the legislation specifically allows charitable poker, also overseen by the Lottery Commission. HB 3186 would mean bigger and more successful regular charitable tournaments benefiting a variety of important causes.

“Charitable poker means more Texans win,” said Lavigne. “Texas charities are losing out on millions of dollars due to the antiquated laws governing the game.”

Despite recent federal attempts to eliminate online poker, the game continues to grow in popularity worldwide. As poker related television programming continues to spread in popularity, so do the many new tournaments that attract tourists and visitors. States like California and Connecticut have long been reaping the benefits of the poker boom.

“We applaud Representative Menendez for taking the time to compile such a thorough piece of legislation,” said Lavigne. “This bill gives poker back to Texans and the state oversight over the millions of dollars already moving across Texas tables.”

Highlights of HB 3186:
• 4 live and/or electronic, raked tables allowed in each establishment that meets requirements
• Lottery Commission decides how many tables are allowed in each racetrack
• Charitable poker enabled
• Mandatory dealer training and licensing (inexpensive)
• Licensing for distributors of commercial poker equipment
• Money raised will be dedicated to necessary state services
• Criminal penalties for dishonest operators
• Raises over a billion dollars for state services

The Texas Poker PAC is a grassroots organization created to encourage legal, safe and accessible poker in Texas.
Join Today!

26 Comments to “Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have a Bill!”

  1. jackie trehorn

    Thanks for posting this and thanks for your work on getting a state Rep. to sponsor this bill.
    I will send him an email right away. Hope he gets 1000s.

  2. Bennett Flanagan

    The entire poker community of Texas owes Mike Lavigne and others a great deal of graditude and appreciation. While this bill is far from perfect, it is a good start. Your support is required. Contact your state representatives to seek their support to bring this bill to a vote.

    Bennett Flanagan
    Texas Card Players Association

  3. Fresh Princess

    Thank You, Thank You!

  4. DanM

    Mike, most 5-year-olds are learning to program in PHP now.

  5. DanM

    By the way, double-mad-props for getting that bad-limit provision removed, too. Seriously, it’s good to see gov occasionally be sensible …

  6. Tiny B


  7. Lavigne in Austin

    thanks y’all, but we are just beginning. This is going to be an uphill battle. we are battling not just the out of state casinos who don’t want any gaming expansion in Texas, but also those Texans who are ideologically opposed.

    We will need all of your support and participation as we move forward.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  8. Willie

    This is awesome news, but kinda got overshadowed by the huge casino gambling bill also submitted today. That really gets my hopes up that at least one of these two bills will get passed. Either way, I can keep the miles down on my car, save gas money, and not have to explain to my girlfriend that a hour drive is reasonable to get to a poker game.

  9. Lavigne in Austin

    you are right willie. we knew the big casino bill would end up sucking most of our oxygen in the press today, but decided to go ahead and put the release out anyway in hopes that we could start giving poker folks the heads up…

    we will have another opportunity for press when it gets to the committee.

    I think poker may be a bit more palatable to the masses than wholesale casinos- in the long run. we’ll see soon enough!

  10. zach

    • Criminal penalties for dishonest operators

    so we still have gotten nowhere for our local rooms.

  11. DanM

    zach, what do you mean by that?

  12. zach

    maybe I’m reading it wrong Dan, you can correct me. When can we legalize poker rooms?

  13. DanM

    maybe later?

    (interestingly enough, if you look at the poll on the right, you’ll see most people think something close to that will happen in a year. my guess is that most of the people taking this poll also tend to often believe they’re gonna hit that gutshot on the river.)

    p.s. good luck to your girlfriend in court tomorrow today! i’ll bet you she wins.

  14. zach

    Thanks Man, I’ll let her know, she has a great lawyer to boot

  15. PokerProf

    I doubt this will go unchecked, but here’s to progress!

  16. Woody

    Nice work Ed and the Texas Poker PAC. Keep us updated.

  17. Dan

    What’s the chance that we can get section 2004.101 struck from the bill? Only 4 tables at a location? That effectively puts a stop on any large scale tour.

  18. Lavigne in Austin

    racetracks will have as many tables as the lottery commission deems ok…

    lets not get greedy. we aren’t going to get poker rooms like california just yet.

  19. DanM

    as someone who might have an interest helping a bar run four tables, i think 2004.101 sounds pretty dandy, dan, let’s just get poker here … and from there we can worry about luring the WPT and such.

  20. DanM

    Todd, re: #6 … if you want nothing but pure hand analysis, check out this blog — — it’s probably more of what you are looking for. no idle chit-chat about pros, however. for that i recommend cardplayer.

    as always, thanks for your feedback!

  21. Dan

    I agree lets get the bill here. But its easer to have a bill passed right the first time than have something removed later. Seems they are throwing a cookie to quiet us rather than see the big picture. Who do you think would pay more tax on tables a bar with 4 tables or a card room with… how many tables does the smallest card room in Kalie have? But if the Casino bill passes its all moot anyway.

  22. Lavigne in Austin

    it actually isn’t easier to pass the bill right the first time. the easiest approach would be to just allow a few tables at racetracks and some charitable tournaments.

  23. Doc John

    This is good news. I want to see our local operators protected, though, and encouraged to continue to serve the poker community in businesses free from harrassment and persecution. I am sure that most of the folks I have met who know this business are quite savvy enough to manage a regular enterprise in spite of the new hassles like taxes and license fees. My assumption would simply be that the increase in business would make up any difference, not to mention being able to have a visible presence and a reputation for service. Mike, I look forward to hearing from you again about possibly testifying at the hearings.

  24. Stefanie

    I just moved to Austin a few months ago. I miss playing poker. Any home games looking for more players? I don’t know anyone here either so it’d be great to meet some people too. I can leave an email or messenger address if anyone wants it…I’ve got a few extra floating around. 🙂

  25. Bruce

    2004.055 will restrict start-ups or existing companies from devoloping new technology to have access in the electronic products business model proposed. This must be ammended by either a friendly ammendment or regular ammendment, if necessary. If we get that far! Also, In november 2006 Nevada passed the wireless Gaming Act allowing wireless gaming. This is the same as tables; except there are no tables. This is what we will be pushing for! Where you can play with a wireless devise anywhere in a specific room.

  26. Brian Lee

    Finally ! A step in the right direction. Texas Holdem perhaps has found a stong foothold that will ultimately put “Texas ” back in the Game of Poker where it rightly belongs.