In a blog posted in January, we detailed a bill introduced in the Texas State legislature which, if approved, would legalize poker in physical, brick and mortar locations. The bill was careful not to address the more controversial topic of Internet poker, leading many to believe that Internet poker would not be legalized in the State in the near future. This week, however, Texas State Senator Leticia Van de Putte introduced a bill that specifically addresses the issue of online poker in Texas and, if approved, would require Texas to “opt into” a federal Internet poker bill, should one pass. The Texas bill specifies that it would create a law that tracks the approved federal Internet poker bill, verbatim, and give the Texas Lottery the authority to license online poker rooms. Additionally, the bill does not attempt to create any restrictions on what would be allowed under a potential federal law.
It is important to note that the entire Texas bill is prefaced upon Congress passing a national bill to legalize Internet poker, which is no small feat. While new legislation addressing Internet poker is likely to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this Spring, there is no way to predict whether it will be approved. Several attempts to create a federal framework for the legalization of Internet poker have fallen short, including attempts in 2011 and 2012. The hotly contested issue is split between those who believe that a federal Internet poker law will create uniformity and curtail fraud and those who believe that a federal law would encroach on state sovereignty and send the wrong message about a morally ambiguous industry.
The development of federal and state interpretations of Internet gambling remains a significant topic for all gaming attorneys and those interested in Internet poker and gambling in general.
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