1. Running commentary on the subjects discussed in Harrington's book (as I read it). The book is excellent BTW.
2. A status report on the gambling legislation in the Texas Legislature (some very interesting recent activity in the House & Senate).
In the meantime, here is a mailbag post:
I am a member of Texans for Poker. This is an grass roots organization that is attempting to lobby for the legalization of poker in Texas. I recommend joining, and also contributing a few dollars to the tip jar on his site.
After I sent in my small contribution, the President and founder emailed me to ask me if I had any questions about what they were doing. He's emailed me legal questions from time to time about interpretation of different laws and bills. This one from today is very interesting, and I didn't know about this bill. Here it is...
Are you familiar with HB 1824? It will allow bars with TABC licenses to run poker games, even charging a cover charge.
Our confusion on it is if it would allow a bar to bring in a third party to run it.
Here is the bill... By: Dutton H.B. No. 1824 Filed: March 1, 2005
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT
Relating to authorizing an alcoholic beverage permit holder to host a card game.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Section 47.02, Penal Code, is amended by adding Subsection (f) to read as follows: (f) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:
(1) the actor bet or played for money or other thing of value at a game played with cards on premises at which the actor reasonably believed the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages was authorized by law;
(2) the actor reasonably believed that no participant in the card game received any economic benefit from that participation other than personal winnings; and
(3) except for the advantage of skill or luck, the risks of losing and the chances of winning at the card game were the same for all participants.
SECTION 2. Section 47.09, Penal Code, is amended by adding Subsections (c) and (d) to read as follows:
(c) It is a defense to prosecution under this chapter that:
(1) the gambling for money or other thing of value involved a game played with cards that occurred on premises at which the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages was authorized under an alcoholic beverage permit issued under Title 3, Alcoholic Beverage Code;
(2) no person other than a participant in the card game received any direct economic benefit from the card game, other than a participation or admission charge collected by the owner of the premises from persons participating in or observing the card game;
(3) no participant in the card game received any economic benefit from that participation other than personal winnings; and
(4) except for the advantage of skill or luck, the risks of losing and the chances of winning at the card game were the same for all participants.
(d) For purposes of Subsection (c), money received from sales of beverages, food, or other goods or services is not a direct economic benefit from a card game.
SECTION 3. The change in law made by this Act applies only to an offense committed on or after the effective date of this Act. An offense committed before the effective date of this Act is covered by the law in effect when the offense was committed, and the former law is continued in effect for that purpose. For purposes of this section, an offense was committed before the effective date of this Act if any element of the offense was committed before that date.
SECTION 4. This Act takes effect September 1, 2005
Here is my response to him:
Here’s my take:
Under Chapter 47, playing cards is still illegal. The interpretation thus far, is that a bar receives an economic benefit by the increased food/drink sales as a result of the tournament. This bill attempts to clarify what’s allowed. Of course, 47.02 is the general prohibition of gambling.
Here’s what the new bill says:
Although poker is still illegal, it’s an affirmative defense if: the player thought that the bar was acting within the law by hosting the game.
47.09 is the section entitled “Other Defenses”. This is where they throw in the bar exception:
It’s not illegal if it’s in a TABC licensed bar;
The bar owner can charge an admission fee to the players;
No economic benefit to the players except the winnings;
Money received from sales of food/beverages does not count as economic benefit.
To answer your question, the plain language of the law seems to allow third parties to charge to run these tournaments. First, it doesn’t say that the owner has to get paid the admission fee. It only states that the fee is “collected by the owner.” It looks to me like any person can economically benefit from the admission fee, but cannot economically benefit from anything else. In other words, if you’re not playing in the event, you cannot ecomically benefit except through the charge of an admission fee that is collected by the owner.
Another argument is that: The 3rd party host is not “directly benefiting” from the card game. The owner is hiring them, and they’re indirectly benefiting. In other words, they get paid whether or not the tournament actually takes place. This is a little more tenuous, but an argument nonetheless.
Of course none of this means anything until it is signed into law. But I hope it helps.