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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bill aims to legalize poker in Texas | Austin

Bill aims to legalize poker in Texas | Austin

Bill aims to legalize poker in Texas

by Phil Anaya / KENS 5
Posted on January 19, 2013 at 5:40 PM

SAN ANTONIO -- Even though it’s called Texas Hold’em, playing poker in the Lone Star State for money is illegal. However, that could change if lawmakers pass a certain bill this legislative session.

House Bill 292 is sponsored by Democrat Eddie Rodriguez, and if passed would legalize Texas Hold’em at bingo halls, Indian reservations as well as at horse and dog racetracks.

Kris Keller owns several bingo halls in San Antonio and likes the idea.

“I think it would be big,” said Keller. “I think a lot of people play poker now and if it was legal a lot more people might want to play.”

Keller said other bingo hall owners like the idea since it wouldn’t be exclusive to casinos. He said it would also give San Antonians a chance to stop having to drive hundreds of miles to play poker for money.

“I know that our charities would have an opportunity to profit more, which would be good for the community because they’re local charities,” said Keller.

However, the proposed law has its share of critics, and the odds could be against legalizing poker.

“I’m probably not for increasing the amount of legal gambling that goes on in Texas,” said San Antonian Mary Schuett.

“People have gambling problems. To me, I don’t see why we need to have gambling here,” added Javier Garcia of San Antonio.

The bill would not only create a legal avenue to play poker, but also calls for tougher penalties on those who play the game illegally.

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