Posts Tagged ‘HB-3186’

Legalize Poker in Texas, Take 2

by , Nov 24, 2008 | 4:44 am

Dave in Grapevine (from the Yestbay1 poker blog) wrote in on Friday with a reminder that the Texas Legislature is about to be back in session (the state congress meets every other year there) and our second go-round with Make Poker Legal is starting strong out of the gate:

Hey Dan,

I heard a news story on the radio way home today which you or someone else on the Pokerati staff is probably all over already, but I thought I would e-mail you about it anyway.

It appears that Jose Menendez has (re-)introduced his bill to legalize poker in Texas. I found a couple of links to news blurbs about it, although nothing of much substance:

These short articles are all pretty much the same thing, with quotes from Menendez about his reasons for the bill.

I look forward to reading more about it on as things develop.

Dave Westbay
Grapevine, TX

Thanks much, Dave, for the heads-up. These articles may not be big, but session isn’t even underway yet, so it’s a good sign that poker is already getting early ink and airtime from the non-poker press. Indeed, Pokerati can’t help but to be all over it as the legislation moves forward. We (Texas poker people) got further than expected in 2007 … and if we can successfully punch Menendez’s bill through this time (re-branded as the “Poker Gaming Act of 2009”) … well, hey, Vegas has been nice, but you can expect this not-so-humble little poker blogger to return home posthaste from self-imposed exile.

RE: Rallying the Troops

by , Mar 14, 2008 | 7:03 pm

texas poker politics

Pokerati file photo: The HB-3186 war room, led by Lavigne in Austin (standing, top left) with Texas poker politicos, player representatives, and out-of-state allies preparing for a capitol offensive.

In addition to those state-by-state member numbers, the PPA put out a press release this week announcing its new state directors. Good to see poker players getting more involved in grassroots activity as the politi-dudes looking out for us in Washington DC continue to develop into a real Beltway force. However, there’s one state where the director curiously isn’t named — and that’s Texas.

Um, Mike …? Has there been a change to your resume that you might wanna blog about that you might wanna blog about?

UPDATE: Lavigne in Austin en-route-to-Wichita-Falls confirms via Blackberry that he is indeed still a state director for the PPA, and showed off his political skills by dodging my follow-up question about “why the ‘TBA’ then?” by reassuring me that the poker political machinery in Texas, having been built and tested now, will be well-oiled for 2009 with real Texas Hold’em in Texas in 2010 so long as I don’t write anything to muck it up.

Re: Red Men’s Raided (2)
Dallas County maintains perfect record of zero convictions in poker cases

by , Oct 4, 2007 | 6:01 am

A temporarily anonymous reader writes in with an update on some cases against “alleged” poker dealers and room operators at the Audie Murphy VFW, which was raided (as opposed to just busted) in April:

I just thought you might want to know that all of the Gambling Promotion charges that were pending against 11 alleged dealers, and or operators have been deleted,or shall I say in the words of that wonderful attorney of mine “Dallas County has decided to throw in the towel”. Chalk up another one for the Poker Players and give my attorney a raise? NOT!!! he was expensive enough to begin with but well worth it.

Cool, awesome … good for you. I mean except for the legal fees part. But considering how much money Dallas attorneys tend to donk into a game, it’s probably a wash, right?

(Not sure “deleted” is an actual legal term, by the way. But I suspect it is still good for the defendants.)

More on the VFW and other poker busts in Dallas here.

These came, interestingly enough, just a couple weeks after the Dallas DA publicly declared his support for HB 3186, which set out to clarify the legality of raked poker games and set up standards to regulate such businesses.

More on Dallas’ poker-friendly courthouse here.

Re: Wagons Are Circling

by , Aug 6, 2007 | 11:59 am

Just as the anti-poker side is encouraging their “pro family” members to write their representatives about the plagues that will fall if the UIGEA is undone, pro-poker ambassadors are also hard at work rallying the troops. Click below to see the letter Greg Raymer sent out seeking similar political activity from presumably lazy poker types.

Interestingly enough, I have a PokerStars account and am a paying member of the PPA … but didn’t get this email. (It was forwarded to me by Don the Las Vegas Real Estate Guy.) With the other side well-practiced in their methods of swinging votes, I gotta think the poker side may need some extra coordination to keep up with the competition. Perhaps the three federal bills in play would benefit from something similar to what we used in Texas to electronically connect the legislators and citizenry en masse. Seriously, this relatively small programming effort went a long way toward ensuring our beloved little HB 3186 was a good chunk of the hallway/bathroom buzz around the state capitol at a semi-critical time.

Again, Greg Raymer’s request below …


You Gotta Fight…

by , Jun 4, 2007 | 5:00 pm

AUSTIN–Sorry it took so long to get this Legislative Wrap-Up out, but I needed a little break.

The poker bill (HB 3186) indeed died this session. We most likely will not have legal poker in Texas before 2009. That’s the bad news.

There is much more good news though. Before this session, legal poker was little more than an intangible wish. It is a lot closer to a reality now. Our bill explicitly outlined a workable system for legal poker. Because of this, we gained a lot of legislative support as the session wore on and legislators could study our proposal. This gives us a huge leg up next session. Rather than explaining how the bill works, we will be able to be considered alongside a number of other revenue generating proposals.

We got a lot farther than most predicted. We did win a vote in committee and in the Calendars committee. We were even set on the house calendar. This is great considering the fact that the state didn’t need the extra revenue this year. Unfortunately the clock ran out on us despite having enough votes lined up in the State House to pass it. We even had a Senate sponsor ready to pick it up.

We had a great media day on the day of our committee hearing. The story was picked up by press all over the state and even CNN and some foreign outlets.

Because of all the work we did this session, we have something that the idea of legal poker never had in Texas: Credibility. With this new asset, we can continue the fight.


Better Luck (the year after) Next Year

by , May 30, 2007 | 2:26 am

A little too little a little too late, perhaps … but the Houston Chronicle has a great piece by columnist sports-blogger and ESPN/The Ticket radio talk-show host Jerome Solomon about why poker in Texas shoulda been legalized. Lavigne in Austin certainly has the message down … and others are starting to hear it. Encouraging, actually, to know that next time around what the poker people have to say might actually make sense to those who don’t play, and even those who might be generally against gambling.

Makes me think that maybe some of us have been using the wrong term — “legalized.” As this column points out … poker already is legal in Texas (like golf, and fishing, and bridge) and all we are looking to do is allow people (and the state) to profit off letting certain good folks offer a slightly souped-up version of the game … just updating the current laws that already allow the game to be played. Can you imagine if it were legal to golf, but illegal to run a pro shop? Maybe our use of the term “legalize” makes it sound like drugs.

How a Bill Doesn’t Become a Law

by , May 24, 2007 | 5:03 am

The Texas legislative session is coming to a close, and save for the chance of hitting a miracle half-outer on the river, the Texas Poker Act is dead. Bummer. But better luck next time, right? And until then, I guess it’s off to Oklahoma we go!

Good article in the DMN about how Dallas essentially got its butt kicked
on many issues that might matter to this city. What poker people might also find interesting is discussion of House Speaker Tom Craddick. He, of course, was essentially the guy who killed the poker bill. I mean he didn’t kill-kill it — officially he declared his neutrality — but he had the power to put it somewhere better on the calendar and chose to go the other way. Craddick, followers of Texas politics may know, has some hot water of his own to deal with right now — as a lot of people within the Republican Party want to replace him.

Mr. Craddick is in a pitched battle to retain his post as speaker. Three Republicans who have signaled their intent to replace him are from North Texas: Reps. Jim Pitts of Waxahachie, Fred Hill of Richardson and Brian McCall of Plano.

I don’t know much about Fred Hill. But Jim Pitts … in addition to advocating the execution of highly problematic pre-teens, was part of the minority declaring intent to vote against our beloved HB 3186. And lest you think nepotism abounds in Texas politics … this despite the fact that his brother and nephew, John and John Jr., were the chief lobbyists on legal poker’s behalf.

As for Brian McCall, despite his being one of the more liberal Republicans in the state … well … Pokeratizens know all too well that we’ve got some work to do in terms of endearing him to our cause.

ALT HED: Murmur?

RE: Down But Not Out

by , May 12, 2007 | 4:01 pm

A Pokerati friend whose name may or may not rhyme with Rudy Giuliani writes in with some good reminders about how the political process works:

Condolences on your temporary setback, but don’t give up. If the Texas legislature is anything like New York’s (where I spent years as a staffer) then the following things are true (and if they sound facetious, they’re not):

1) No major bill becomes a law in the first year that it is taken seriously. (unless it bears the name of a child who died a tragic death.) That could be due to a healthy prudence that insists on letting an idea ripen before turning it into a law; or it could be a cynical ploy to extract more campaign donations and/or raise the political stakes before delivering the goods. Most often, I think, it’s just the rhythm of the institution. It takes a couple of years to see if the public support for the bill is serious enough to make it worth the confrontations that will be needed to get it passed.

2) No bill ever becomes a law just because it’s obviously a good idea; somebody with the clout to push it through has to have a political motivation to do so.

3) When a bill has strong public support, and enough sponsors to ensure its passage, but somehow gets held up in the process and never makes it to a vote: that’s when it gets interesting. Nine times out of ten, somebody loses money if this bill becomes a law, and that person (or industry group) has a lock on some powerful member who is able to hold up the process. The point of resistance needs to be identified and the sponsor of the bill has to be pushed into a confrontation with the powerful member. (Getting a law enacted is like giving a deep massage: you have to find the hidden resistance point and work it real hard, and if it isn’t painful you’re not working the right spot.)

Just some thoughts from a scarred veteran of many political wars. If you want to post this on your site, please don’t post my name; I’m still active in state government and it might be awkward if this came up when my name is googled.

Anyway, keep at it; the second year is the most important one. As the crap dealers say when you buy in for the second time: Better luck, sir!


Down, But Not Out

by , | 3:04 pm

Sorry I didn’t post immediately after HB 3186 saw its untimely demise this week, but I went out and drank to bed Thursday night after it became evident that we weren’t gonna get there.

Lets bring the vitriol down a notch and look at the big picture here. I’ll do a proper post-mortem later, but for now lets remember a few things:

1) All good bills take time to pass. I was one of the primary organizers behind the legislation to give Texas teachers paid health insurance. That took us about 4 1/2 years in a time when the state was pretty flush with cash. Not because we did anything wrong, not because the system doesn’t work, but because that is just how long it takes to tell everyone what you want to do and why. We are WAY ahead of the curve on this one.

2) Nobody expected a bill this good to get filed…much less out of committee, through calendars and given a slot on the floor.

3) Our bill didn’t die because legislators don’t like/want poker. Our bill died because there were some major bad bills ahead of it that legislators didn’t want to get to. That is just the way it goes. Frankly, we are probably better off that some of those bills didn’t get voted on.

So, where does that leave us? That leaves us with about 2 1/2 weeks left of session. The possibility does still exist that we could amend our language onto another eligible bill that has already made it through one chamber. I’ll spare y’all the procedural civics lesson for now, but it is a possibility.

If that doesn’t work, we have 1 1/2 years to get ready to do this again. That isn’t very long. We will need to build up a better organization, raise money and stand together until then.

Stay tuned. The fatcats may be singing, but the fat lady isn’t even getting warmed up.

Democracy Inaction

by , | 5:52 am

I’m sure this won’t piss anyone off … but check out the letter Rep. Brian McCall (R-Plano) sent to a concerned poker citizen who requested his support on HB 3186:

click to enlarge

Wow. Way to encourage participation in the political process, sir. I think a lot of elected officials — perhaps the majority even — forget that regular people like Mr. Rogers are their bosses, not their bitches. I may be a little jealous because he has way better hair than me tilty based on the way he belittles a citizen who simply did what he was supposed to do to let his representative know where he stands on an issue. You’ll notice McCall doesn’t actually take a stance … he pretty much just calls Jason stupid for doing so.

Click below for more insight into what a simple-minded congressman Rep. McCall may or may not be …

ALT HED: Why We Lost, Exhibit A


Mr. 3186 says “I May Die!”

by , May 10, 2007 | 11:06 pm

HB 3186 explains that he is one of the lucky ones and it’s not easy to become a law.

See his story here!

Re: More Important than Poker (2)

by , | 7:00 pm

Lavigne in Austin just called me with something close to a concession speech. He won’t say it’s definitely not gonna get through, but he would be surprised. They’ve made it about halfway through the calendar in about eight hours. We have until midnight by house rule to get this done.

Lavigne says he has seen them disable the clock before so they could go past the deadline, but that seems unlikely … because what we have been seeing go on right now is something called “chubbing” — where people on the same side of an issue ask each other questions simply as a delay tactic. Apparently there is some very contentious bill on page 19 or 20 … and many of the members would rather not get to that. If they do, then it will have a long debate.

“We’re getting blinded out,” Lavigne says.

This reminds me of watching the UIGEA go down … with the clock ticking it looked like they might not get to that. But there, the man with the gavel (Sen. Bill Frist) had every reason to make sure they did. Not the case here with Speaker Craddick.

Meanwhile, in the Florida Legislature, they flew through the gambling and poker bills — correcting some betting limit problems passed in the last session — even though it upsets some of the conservative bedrocks of that state.

Re: More Important than Poker

by , | 5:23 pm

OK, I am losing faith … I am thinking a few people need to die before poker becomes a priority.

Right now the debate on the Texas House floor is about some consulting fee to improve county jail standards — and it’s turning into a bitter fight about who’s got a worse lock-up, Dallas or Harris County. (Dallas has had major inspection failures four years in a row — and the Dept. of Justice is not happy.)

It’s all reminding me of the last time I followed a specific legislative push in Texas — looking to address dire circumstances faced by prison guards in 2000. The correctional officers had been getting stabbed and beaten at an alarming rate, Hepatitis was running wild, and the gangs were growing stronger with the violence seeping into the free world … and they never got anything heard on the floor. Why? Because too many pols (who weren’t specifically opposed to improving things for prison guards) were afraid of looking soft on crime.

The best EV in the eyes of the Legislature came from just not getting to the matter.

ALT HED: RE: Not-so-Super/System

UPDATE: Here’s the totally non-poker article on Texas’ prison woes, for those who happen to be interested in the potential for bad decision-making by elected officials.

More Important than Poker

by , | 4:35 pm

I’m watching the House floor right now … in the background. HB 3186 ain’t coming up anytime soon … and if they don’t get to it by midnight, it is dead dead dead for 2007. So I may be updating this post throughout the next few hours to point out other things that have made their way to the legislative fore:

  • Hispanics want to shoot of fireworks for Cinco de Mayo. Interestingly, it’s a matter of police having resources to fight illegal fireworks shooting if it remains illegal. (It’s apparently also good for schools and charities.)
  • They are voting now on the fireworks thing … the amendment failed 29-110, but the bill itself passed! (I think. Can’t be sure.) Only 170 more bills to go before they get to poker!
  • OK, they just passed three bills in like three minutes five bills in four minutes — something about rural railroads, money for colleges in Central Texas, mentors for teens in foster care, and a pilot program to save Medicaid money.
  • Apparently reaching HB 3186 is mathematically possible. Am thinking poker would benefit from a relationship with Red Bull. If anyone can get a few dozen cases to the floor shortly after the dinner break — perhaps with a note saying “From Texas poker players in support of HB 3186” — that would be pretty cool. No idea if it would be legal, but hey …
  • It’s nearing an hour talking about some county jail monitor. It is getting FEISTY! Legislative tilt clearly in play.
    Unknown Legislator: Do you know why democracy takes so long?
    Rep. Craddick: Wha…? Oh … democracy?
    UL: That’s a foreign term around here.
    Craddick: We’re interested in what you have to say.
  • OK, maybe there is no dinner break … someone just brought in barbecue (from Tuffy’s?). Seriously, next time … Red Bull.


C’mon … House!

by , | 4:17 am

The Thursday calendar is out. Poker is on page 21 of 23.


It seems the other side (who that really is, I’m not sure) made its straight on the turn and we’re lookin’ for a boat on the river. Or quads … Ten-outer.

ALT HED: Not-so-Super/System