Complete coverage of the 83rd session of the Texas Legislature.

Lawmaker Proposes Legalizing Poker Gaming

Lawmaker wants to bring legal Texas Hold 'em to Texas

By Omar Villafranca
|  Thursday, Jan 17, 2013  |  Updated 7:17 PM CDT
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A bill in Austin would make it legal to play poker for profit horse and dog racing tracks as well as bingo halls. Similar bills have failed in the past.

Omar Villafranca, NBC 5 News

A bill in Austin would make it legal to play poker for profit horse and dog racing tracks as well as bingo halls. Similar bills have failed in the past.

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An Austin lawmaker wants to make it legal for Texans to play real Texas Hold 'em in the Lone Star State.

Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, a Democrat, has authored a bill that would legalize and regulate poker gaming in Texas.

"It's called Texas Hold 'em for a reason, so I figured, let's let Texans play Texas Hold 'em legally in certain places without having to go to these underground places," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez's bill would allow poking gaming at bingo halls and at horse and dog tracks. The bill only includes poker games, not other forms of gambling.

Bingo hall operators such as Victor Rawdon of Casino Bingo in Fort Worth like the idea and are all in. Rawdon said his customers have gone to other states to play games.

"I've been in bingo since 1984, and I've seen it slowly decline," Rawdon said. "Since the inception of Oklahoma and Louisiana, where they have gambling, it's not but an hour away. It's basically a short road trip to Vegas."

NBC 5 contacted Lone Star Park for comment, but didn't hear back.

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