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Advocates want to legalize poker in Texas

26 January 2009

DALLAS, Texas -- As reported by the Dallas Morning News: "Behind a mirrored plate-glass window, a metal security barricade and several surveillance cameras, an illegal Thursday night Texas Hold 'em group huddles around a felt table in a Northeast Dallas storefront, cradling cards and tossing chips under blinding fluorescent lights.

"Young men who learned poker watching ESPN tournaments swill Mountain Dew to stay alert, their business clothes sweaty and wrinkled. Retirees with dip-packed gums and dark sunglasses talk trash from under low-slung ball caps, reveling in the freedom of a night out.

"The players have little in common but their love of poker – and the risk they'll take to play it. Seven days a week, 12 hours a night, they and hundreds of other Dallas card players converge in sketchy strip malls and upscale private homes, venturing into the city's illicit late-night poker games for a chance at a winning hand.

"Increasingly, the odds are against them. Stepped-up police raids of poker rooms have threatened Dallas' claim to the biggest, highest-stakes underground poker scene in the state. And the hundreds of illegal poker rooms across the city – which can rake in $3,000 on an average night – have become robbers' easy targets.

"But these players aren't folding yet. Advocates for legalizing poker in Texas are endorsing legislation this session to regulate the game, which they say would bring revenue to the state and allow them to play in safety.

"The bill's supporters say Texas is missing a financial boon. Every week, hundreds of thousands of dollars are changing hands tax-free in Dallas and other Texas cities, a lucrative underground economy. With legalized poker comes heightened safety, they say. Today, robbers know their victims won't call the police..."

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