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Online Poker Bill Set to Face Public Vote in Texas

State Senator Leticia Van de Putte introduced a joint resolution that would establish a program to license the operation of online poker sites in the state of Texas. State citizens will be able to vote on Texas Ballot Measure SJR No. 43 in the upcoming November elections.

The unique bill provides stipulations that would permit licensed operation of online poker regardless of the regulatory landscape. The proposed program would authorize online poker operators to accept wagers from Texas residents if a federal bill becomes law. In the absence of federal legislation, the Texas Lottery would gain permission to operate licensed online poker rooms. Finally, the bill permits the formation of interstate compacts that would lead to the sharing of player liquidity.

The new joint resolution follows an anti-online poker bill that was introduced in February by State Senator Eddie Rodriguez. The Texas Poker Gaming Act of 2013 would license Brick and Mortar establishments to offer poker, but ban an online form of the game. The bill was proposed in response to recent issues with illegal poker institutions and home games throughout the state. Although it would bring poker to Texas, the proposed ban on online poker was met with confusion and surprise as all forms of poker are considered skill based games under Federal and State interpretation.

Texas remains a crucial state for the legislation of online poker due to its massive population and the popularity of the game. It is arguably considered the birthplace for the most popular variant of poker (Texas Hold’Em) and is home to iconic players such as Doyle Brunson. The competing measures are expected to clash over the next year as Texas citizens weigh the option of live and online forms of poker.


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