Texas State Hold 'Em (Updated)

Will poker become taxable income in Texas?

Cut those cards (but don't deal 'em yet), because letting people play poker for money and taking a share for the house may become legal this session.

House Bill 3186, aka the Texas Poker Bill, shuffled out of the ever-thrilling House Licensing & Administrative Procedures Committee Wednesday. It would allow poker tables at some bars and racetracks, with the state (of course) taking a rake out of every hand. Importantly, it also legalizes charitable poker events, which are currently illegal. The cash from license fees and taxes (18% of the house rake for commercial gambling, 5% from charity events) will end up in the coffers of Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, to be split 50-50 between homeless shelters and programs and the housing trust fund.

It's all born from a good dose of pragmatism: As bill sponsor Rep. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio, put it in a press release, "Right now, in any size city at almost any time, anyone can find an illegal poker game to play in. Texas ought to benefit from the game rather than push these millions of dollars into the hands of criminals."

Personally, we blame ESPN for showing the World Series of Poker.

Next stop for this bill? The House for debate, where it may just about pass before the end of the session.

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