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    Hypocrisy in the Home of Hold’em

    Posted by Coffee September 10, 2013

    One of the saddest situations in poker today is the plight of its most popular game’s namesake. Last month, the Texas legislature finally passed a roads bill in a third special legislative session called by Governor Rick Perry. Of note, the bill that finally passed was expected to fall short of the $4 billion a year experts say the state needs for roads. Meanwhile, Senate Joint Resolution 6, which would have authorized limited expansion of casino gaming (including poker) in the state of Texas, failed to even make it out of its committee during the regular session. Mind you, this bill would not have allowed gaming to expand, but simply put the choice to the voters.

    No one from Texas is surprised at the resistance to this bill. Legislation for legal casinos in Texas has failed for every single session in recent memory. So, Texas is left with inadequately funded road legislation and some of the lowest per-student educational spending in the nation.

    The only legal casino in the state is on the Kickapoo reservation, which is located on the border with Mexico and is remote from every major city in Texas.  Some of the only state-sanctioned gaming, lottery and bingo, came within a lunch break of ceasing forever this past year, even at a cost of $2.2 billion in annual revenue. And yet, Texans spent an estimated $4.37 billion on food, lodging and gaming in adjacent-state casinos in 2012. Opinion polls, such as this one and this one, have shown that Texans are overwhelmingly in favor of at least having the chance to decide their own future with regard to gaming.

    Speaking as a native Texan, I will be surprised if voters ever get that chance. Governor Perry (and governors before him) and a small cabal of conservative lawmakers have held this issue hostage for decades. Texas law enforcement agencies continue to raid private poker rooms (like this one last year) and deal with them by charging the gamerunners with organized crime, a felony under state law that also applies to street gangs and the Mafia. Standard operating procedure in these raids also includes confiscation of the monies involved.

    I have played poker in numerous locations. Very few people I have ever met at a poker table have struck me as criminals. Most of them are doctors, lawyers and other professionals looking to have a good time, blow off some steam and enjoy the wonderfully pure competition that is poker. Yet, in the namesake of poker’s most famous game, ordinary citizens continue to choose between hours on dangerous roadways or ending up on the wrong side of the law.

    This situation, however, serves to highlight the fervor of anti-gambling (and anti-poker) advocates in this country. Even with all of poker’s prominence since 2003, we still struggle with perception issues in the public at large, especially at key legislative junctures. It is a sobering reminder of our place in the world. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to drive for three straight hours to the east – those people aren’t going to check-raise themselves.

    QuadJacks.com - September 7, 2013

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