Posts Tagged ‘HB 222’

Reports of Texas Poker Bill’s Looming Death: Greatly Exaggerated

by , Apr 29, 2009 | 12:21 pm

Our little Texas poker bill was chugging along well, and then I blinked … poof, and we were supposedly down to the proverbial chip-and-a-chair yesterday. For all our hard work to get it to the Calendars Committee and then let them know how much support it had from a diverse group of constituents … it was just sitting there? The blinds were eating us up, and, supposedly, we were about to take a bad beat from some arm-twisting higher-ups who had had just about enough.

(Note to self: politics is hard.)

But politics is about compromise — I truly believe that the more I learn about the game — not to mention perception of intent. Our opponents apparently didn’t have a problem with poker so much as they did with the amount of poker we were trying to make possible in this bill. So as we speak/type/read, Austin politicos are “ratcheting back” HB 222. If you were a bar owner hoping to get your hands on a license for some live or electronic tables … well sorry, you’re out of luck. The slimmed-down poker bill the Calendars Comittee will (hopefully, fingers crossed) be sending to the House floor in coming days will allow for poker only at parimutuel race tracks and on Indian Reservations.

OK, imho, we can definitely live with that. And great to hear that any opposition is working with us, not against us, in pursuit of a win-win for poker and the people of Texas. Because that’s really what it’s all about, right?

(C’mon river …)

PPA Ready to Join Texas Fight

by , Apr 24, 2009 | 1:04 pm

The PPA has been keeping an eye on Texas for a while … seeing it as a potential “battleground state”. Now it seems they’re ready to put some resources behind it, as they’ve launched a new website to anchor their Texas efforts:

I contacted retired Pokerati-er and the PPA’s Texas state director, Lavigne in Austin for an interview on this web development, a transcript of which is pasted below:

Michalski: This is good, right?
Lavigne: Yes

Write Your Congressional Calendars Committee

It just got easier

by , Apr 21, 2009 | 11:11 am

Jeff over at LegalizePokerinTexas has updated his site to make it even easier for you to reach out to the 13 key members of the Texas House of Representatives who currently hold the fate of poker in their hands.

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to let them know that you’d really like to see our issues — HB 222 — put to a vote on the House floor so poker players from the great state of Texas can finally have their say.

Here’s the new link:

Click that, and you’ll see a button for “calendars committee” … click that, too, and it will instacheck the right people … so then, all you have to do is press send. You are, of course, welcome to customize the message to your personal liking.

We’re almost there, gang … we’re driving down the field … we need this first down.

RE: Calendars Committee

Three guys who really need to hear from you

by , Apr 20, 2009 | 2:11 pm

While looking through the list … I realized there are a few people on that committee whom we might need to be extra ass-kissy persuasive with. Most specifically:


Rep. Brian McCall (R-Plano) — He’s the chair, so he has the power to make our lives difficult. He’s also a very moderate Republican … so he’s open to our ideas, but you may recall we (poker people) unpleasantly bumped heads with him back in 2007. He doesn’t respond well to threats of not voting for him because he won’t go a certain way on a single issue. So the key with McCall is to let him know that yes, this may be a single issue that matters to you personally, but really it might well matter to Texans who don’t even play poker — because of the revenue it stands to generate, the police and DA resources it stands to free up, the state-pride freedom it represents, and the protection it offers citizens who are attending unsafe underground games or even being robbed in their own homes.


Next Step for Legal Poker in Texas: Calendars Committee

by , | 1:27 pm

Selective aggression … that’s the key here. And it’s again time to make a move. This time, we need to hit up the Calendars Committee. What we’re asking for with them is to get a vote on HB 222 and get it soon. I haven’t crafted my letter yet, but will do so today … in a nutshell I’ll be running down the basics in a single sentence — this bill protects citizens, honors personal freedoms, brings back some pride to Texas, and along with it a bunch of money being dumped in Oklahoma. Will also remind them that this bill has the overwhelming support of the people as well as police and prosecutors, who would greatly appreciate a law that is up-to-date with the 21st century.

Will probably end with something reminding them that this is a perfect example of the kind of sensible government legislation that will show our representatives are capable of looking beyond any controversial rhetoric and doing the right thing … and hey, if we get a vote and we’re wrong, we’ll stop with the email barrages. After all, this IS a grass-roots effort by the people, which makes it very different from the big-money casino bills pending … and they should recognize that.

But really — because this is grass roots and we don’t have the money to pay for a lobbyist to be glad-handing in the back hallways on behalf of HB 222 — we need you Texas-loving folks to get to work over the next 24 hours. (We’ll probably call on you two more times over the course of the next month). We need to hit them up and hit them hard … this is where we got to in 2007, and we did convince them to put us on the calendar, but not high up enough to ever get to a vote on the House floor.

Honestly, for the whole process, it hasn’t been more “on us” than it is right now. Here’s the link to the easy-email generator for Texas poker legislation.

Specifically, the people you should be sending this go-round to (with district # in parentheses) are:

Brian McCall (66) – Chair
Eddie Lucio III (38) – Vice-chair

Norma Chavez (76)
Garnet Coleman (147)
Byron Cook (8)
Brandon Creighton (16)
Charlie Geren (99)
Jim Keffer (60)
Lois Kolkhorst (13)
Edmund Kuempel (44)
Jim McReynolds (12)
Allan Ritter (21)
Burt Solomons (65)

The Venetian, Texas?

by , | 4:00 am

Sheldon Adelson

Good-ish article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram earlier this month about Sheldon Adelson’s vocal interest in Texas. Adelson, of course, is the Chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp, aka The Venetian. Of all the casino billionaires out there, he’s probably shown more than any other a (financial) commitment to poker — not only did he help build the best poker room in Vegas, but he even took a chance on The Real Deal! (Oops.)

Adelson was in Austin the other week testifying before the same Licensing and Administration Procedures Committee that voted 6-3 in favor of poker. You all know about HB 222, but there are actually four gambling-related bills pending in Texas right now:

1. Full-on Vegas-style casino-resorts — 12 of ’em!
2. Poker
3. Slot machines (VLT’s they call them) in the race tracks
4. Online Lottery

Of these four, poker is a little different, because various authorities in the state have already ruled it enough of a game of skill that it doesn’t require a constitutional amendment. Hopefully, Gov. Rick Perry will see it the same not-quite-gambling way, should we get that far, as he has promised suggested he might-well veto any gambling bills sent to his desk.

Clearly, and for obvious reason, Adelson isn’t letting any political posturing deter his efforts to make Texas more Venetian-friendly. But knowing that … man, yo, Shelly, how ’bout throwing a little scratch HB 222’s way! Think of it as a hedge …


Legislative Pulse …

by , Apr 9, 2009 | 5:13 pm

First, a link from the San Antonio Express-News showing that our efforts to legalize poker in Texas are taking hold:

Legalized poker rooms in Texas closer to a reality

And in Florida, which is in the midst of its own mini-poker boom after legalizing the game a couple years ago, is continuing to improve the game, pushing forth legislation to raise cash-game limits and allow for bigger buy-in tourneys:

Florida House plan raises poker stakes

What’s particularly interesting about Florida isn’t so much the poker, but the tax-tweaking related to it. And with that, the ussual opposition seems to be taking a different tack:

The House plans to expand poker and lower the tax rate are paired with an effort to shut down blackjack tables at Seminole resorts.

Fellow Republicans in the state Senate, though, have a different vision. To maximize revenues, senators want to authorize full casinos at Seminole resorts, complete with craps and roulette, as well as blackjack at South Florida tracks and bingo-style slots at facilities across the state. The Senate goes even farther than the House, allowing no-limit poker wagering.

Meanwhile, a pretty good summary of gambling-related initiatives in Texas comes from an email sent out by our opposition in the Christian Life Coalition. And the poli-blogger who subscribes acknowledges that while he is plausibly opposed to much that has to do with expanded gambling in the state, he still endorses Jose Menendez’s HB 222:

Of all the various gambling expansion options I’ve seen, allowing for poker seems to me to be the most sensible and least potentially harmful. Plus, as a bridge player who has had the chance to play for money legally, I think poker is a legitimate game of skill and should be treated as such. In fact, poker players in Pennsylvania and South Carolina recently won court rulings that agreed poker is a game of skill. As such, it’s not clear to me that the AG’s opinion would agree with the CLC about the inherent level of chance here. Of course, I Am Not A Lawyer, and Lord only knows what Greg Abbott will do.

Yeah. People are starting to get it. Go Poker!

Texas Poker Bill Update

With easy-email help from a Pokeratizen

by , Apr 3, 2009 | 9:08 am

I got forwarded a response to a constituent from Rep. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) regarding what comes next for poker legislation in Texas, and I thought I’d share it with the rest of you, as we all continue to learn a thing or two about how the political process works:

Last session the Poker I filed got as far as any had before in Texas this one is ahead of where we were last session so the odds are a little better at this time. That having been said the Leg. Is made up of 150 Reps. and 31 Senators and if I can convince a majority of them to pass the bill I still have to have the bill written so that the Gov. won’t veto it. What I’m trying to say is that we are a long way from home and we may have to make changes to the bill just to get us to have a safe and legal place to play.

Thanks for writing me but importantly write your Rep., Senator and the Gov. Letting them know that you support this and maybe even the full Resort Casino bill that I filed as well.
Jose Menendez
Thank You,
Jose Menendez
Please excuse typos sent from Blackberry

So there we have it. I’ll be honest with you … when it comes to financing the efforts to get these bills through, poker isn’t very well funded. So that means we’re left fighting the fight about as grass-roots as it gets. (The good side is that we will be less encumbered by outside interests when it comes to whipping the language into shape.) To help out the grass-roots effort, Jeff (in Austin?) has updated his website to make it easier for you to reach out and speak to your representatives about why fully legal poker in Texas matters to you, and why it should matter to them.

Here’s the new helper website for your responsible citizen efforts. Be sure to bookmark it, as we will need to tap into this resource over the coming month-and-a-halfish.

Texas Opts against Raking Free Poker Games (at Strip Clubs)

by , Apr 2, 2009 | 2:52 pm

Lesson #1 in politics: It’s not about what makes sense or creating any legal consistency.

Proof: In Dallas, it’s legal to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, but illegal to ride a bicycle without one.

With that in mind, another law moved forward today that indirectly relates to poker … the Texas House approved a 10 percent tax on admission fees to strip clubs, replacing a $5-per-head “sin tax” that was previously in play. I know this law well … not only because it was a major deal at my old stomping grounds, The Lodge, but also because a good buddy of mine actually wrote it. And when he did, it was a sign to me of everything that is wrong with American politics …


HB 222 Passes through House Committee

by , | 12:09 pm

Passed 6-3. Nice job, Texas poker people. Calendars committee is next.



RE: Texas Poker Bill up for Committee Vote Today (6)

by , Mar 27, 2009 | 8:57 am

As we know, HB 222 actually isn’t up for a vote until next week … but it’s looking strong. Here’s The Dallas Morning News’ take on yesterday’s meeting:

Texas Poker Players Willing to Ante Up Tax Money for Legalization

As is always the case in these mainstream media stories, check the comments for a pulse of the people. In this situation, so far, there are 14 comments supporting the bill (with 41 thumbs-ups), and 0 against (with 1 thumbs-down).

Could this thing be any more obvious? It’s a big matter of technicalities and lobbying and money and stuff at this point — along with some political infighting between proponents of the bigger casino bill and a horse-racing slot machine bill (which has been unsuccessfully fought for for about, oh, like 12 years now?). For good measure, Jose Menendez did extend an olive branch to the horse-track people Wednesday, letting them know that poker is indeed happy to help their bottom line — and you can look at other states where bringing poker rooms into the race tracks to get a sense of the many millions they do bring in.

That’s all good and cool — go horse-track poker! — but at the same time, why does politics have to be so hard (and expensive)? I’ve got a solution that should save everyone time and money, and could fit easily on just about any ballot for anything:

Poker in Texas
☐ Yes
☐ No

Isn’t politics at least in part about representing the will of the people? Because we already clearly know the answer to the above question.

RE: Texas Poker Bill up for Committee Vote Today (5)

by , Mar 25, 2009 | 4:02 pm

Oops … sorry for the vote-tease … but hey, I’m just a political rookie sophomore. I thought the Committee vote on Texas HB 222 was today … but they have put it off for a week, so the full committee can vote on it and Menendez and friends can fix some alcohol tax language.

But I think we (Texas poker people) did a good job representing. Now we just wait. (I think.)

RE: Texas Poker Bill up for Committee Vote Today (4)

Live-Blogging the HB 222 Committee Hearing

by , | 3:02 pm

Just trying to move the convo here to keep it fresh.

Click here to watch the hearing live.

* Ooh, he read an email to former special counsel Royce Poinsett right off the bat — letting him know that Texas already sees poker as a game of skill, and therefore doesn’t need a Constitutional Amendment — hey, we went to high school together! Fun!

* Wow — Michigan charity revenue up from 7 million to 72 million … and their population is way less than ours!

* Hey, they mentioned the emails! Woot!

* Ooh, now they’re talking about actual card rooms! OK, they want Menendez to clarify the licensing issues. Fair enough.

“The definition in the bill is too broad.” … hmm, actually I agree.

* Lavigne in Austin is up! Representing the PPA!

* Lavigne is making some points we’ve brought up right here! About pizza and beer.

* Rob Kohler from Christian Life Commission is speaking against. Boo! Boo!

He’s got three issues:

1. not a game of skill
2. electronic tables need a class 3 gaming license
3. ???


RE: Texas Poker Bill up for Committee Vote Today (3)

Email buzz alert

by , | 12:09 pm

Click here to watch the meeting live

OK, here you go … click the link below to ping the House Licensing and Procedures Committee with your support for HB 222. And for those of you griping that the bill itself isn’t perfect … STFU! don’t worry, we can work on that … one step at a time … but first we have to get over today’s hump.

I’ll be letting them know that I am happy they are giving HB 222 it’s due consideration and that I’d like to weigh in with my enthusiastic support. I seriously hope you’ll do the same before opponents to our bill see this post and hijack this link for their own purposes.

Click here to insta-contact important representatives

Here’s the text I’ve included for you … but feel free to customize it however you feel necessary:

To: Edmund Kuempel, Jose Menendez
CC: Senfronia Thompson, Warren Chisum, Charlie Geren, Roland Gutierrez, Delwin Jones, Mike Hamilton, Chente Quintanilla
BCC: Pokerati
SUBJ: 222: please vote YES

Hi there your honors,

I know you have many important votes today. I recognize that HB 222 is a bill about personal freedom that protects Texas citizens while bringing economic benefits to our state. I hope you too will support this sensible government measure and let the voice of hundreds of thousands of Texas poker players be heard and given due consideration in the House of Representatives.

Thank you for your service,

UPDATE: Had Kuempel’s name spelled wrong in the first go at this … it’s been corrected … but just an fyi, in case you were a super-early sender whose email to the chairman bounced.

REMINDER: Don’t forget to add your name (and Texas city if relevant). One-click … type your name … click again … done — you have done your duty as an engaged citizen and contributed toward expanding gambling in Texas the betterment of the recognized skill game that is Texas Hold’em/making the world a better place.

RE: Texas Poker Bill up for Committee Vote Today (2)

Meet the peeps currently deciding poker’s future

by , | 11:12 am

We all know the value of selective aggression … and here’s what’s up in the next couple hours:

The committee voting on us consists of 9 members … so we need the support of five of them. Looking back at past voting records (and combined with some lobbyist intel), we can feel “really good” about four of them, and probably good about one. But two will definitely vote against us; one probably will … and then the big wildcard — we have no idea how he’ll vote — is the committee chair, Edmund Keumpel (R-Seguin). And if I understand committee dynamics right, even with support of the others, he has the power to derail us.

Ed Kuempel, Chairman
House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee


OK, so you got that? He wants to hear from us. So this is where you guys come into play … NOW would be a good time to hit their Blackberries with your support for HB 222. You don’t need to explain the reasons or anything … they know the basic arguments — personal freedom + citizen protection + economic benefit = sensible government — but would love to get a last minute reminder that people out there actively care to see them vote yes and send this bill to the House of Representatives so a meaningful percentage of the Texas citizenry can have their voice, issues, and concerns heard by the people in a position to make a difference for them.

I’m working on a special email link so one click will let you hit them all. But in the meantime, here’s Kuempel’s page with his email and phone info.