Texas Online Poker Law
Although there are no Texas laws that allow online poker, it looks like Texans will be able to play online poker sooner rather than later. Texas appears to be facing poker sensibly, and with online poker bill among two other poker-related bills submitted in 2013, Texas is on the verge of a poker boom.
Online-poker-playing Texans also have an supporter at a federal level in Rep. Joe Barton, who is pushing for national online poker legalization with his awesomely named Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013.
This is the bill that all online-poker-playing Americans should hope makes it to the president’s desk, as it would make online poker legal in the United States. States would have to option to opt out and prevent its citizens from playing online poker. As of late 2013, the bill remains in committee.
The state-level online poker bill, House Bill 3529, sponsored by Republican State Rep. John Kuempel, makes sure Texas doesn’t opt out of the Internet Poker Freedom Act if it ever makes it through Congress. This could be seen as a bill of support for Barton’s efforts, and basically says Texans will be able to play online poker if the federal government says so.
Conservative Gov. Rick Perry, one of the main faces of Republican Party, may be an obstacle to the bill. In 2009, Perry put pressure on legislators and helped snuff out a bill that would have allowed the states seven horse tracks and dog tracks to spread poker.
The other bill that legislators will consider is the Poker Gaming Act of 2013, which again tries to legalize poker at the state’s tracks and one Indian casino. The Texas Lottery Commission would oversee the industry, if passed. It remains in committee.
The third poker bill introduced in 2013 would allow poker tournaments at charity events.
Texas Senators only meet every two years — the odd-numbered years — so they cannot act only any of these bills until 2015, unless Gov. Perry opens a special session specifically to vote on any of these bills, which only he can do.
It’s hard to imagine Gov. Perry would not allow Texans to play online poker if his fellow Texan Republican’s Internet Poker Freedom Act manages to wiggle through the most dysfunctional Congress in recent history.
There are no bills currently in committee that make online poker legal for Texans, and won’t be until Senators get back together in 2015.
When Will Texans be Allowed to Play Online Poker?
If Barton’s Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013 makes it through in 2014 — a highly optimistic thought — Texans may be able to play in that year or 2015. But without a federal law, online poker legalization must come within the state. The Texas legislature may be willing to act on an online poker bill in 2015 after watching other states get into the online poker game. If not in 2015, the lawmakers will surely try again in 2017. It’s seriously hard to imagine that online poker wouldn’t come to Texans by 2018.