It may be called Texas Hold 'em, but since it's illegal in our state, the game of poker isn't quite living up to its name. One state lawmaker, however, is hoping to change that.
Filed by El Paso lawmaker Eddie Rodriguez, House Bill 292 aims to eliminate illegal underground poker games. If passed, places like Bingo Express II in Lubbock may soon be dealing the cards.
"Anything you do for money is gambling," Bingo player Geneva Parr said. "They have the scratch-offs. That's gambling. So, what would be the difference then?"
"And there's a lot of illegal places gambling right now. So, I think it'd be a good thing to go ahead and do it, legalize it. That way we wouldn't have as much illegal stuff, and at the same time, we'd have the revenue," Bingo player Robert McRee said.
Opponents said legal gambling will create more avenues for gambling addicts. Supporters disagree.
"If people have gambling addictions or any kind of addictions, they're going to find out how to get that addiction, whether it's gambling, drugs or alcohol," Bingo player Nikki Smith said. "So, I don't think it's one way or the other."
Bingo Express II Manager Lydia Hockenberry said she believes poker in her bingo hall could easily bump revenue.
"And bringing the money into Lubbock," Hockenberry said. "I mean, if somebody comes from Amarillo, they're going to stay the night. So they're going to rent a motel, and go to the restaurants, and come play bingo, and maybe go play poker."
She said lower prices at her bingo hall attracts customers from around the area.
"We have people come from Amarillo. There are bingo halls in Amarillo, but they come here, because, number one, the prices are cheaper. Number two, they love our bingo halls because they are clean, it's a good place to come," Hockenberry said.
In addition to bingo halls, Indian reservations, horse and dog racetracks could soon see a full house. The bill would not only create a legal avenue to play poker, but also calls for tougher penalties on those who play the game illegally.