Louisiana House to debate pub poker bill

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Bars and lounges wouldn't be allowed to take a rake from the games.

A pub poker bill in Louisiana has cleared its first hurdle - a Senate committee - and is now on its way to a full debate in the House of Representatives.

The legislation would allow bars and restaurants in the state to host Texas Hold'em poker tournaments, provided the venues don't get a cut of the wagering.

The state's top liquor regulator, however, isn't onboard with the proposal, as poker tournaments violate the state's gambling laws.

Rep. Warren Triche of Thibodaux introduced the bill to allow businesses to hold poker tournaments once a week, provided the owner or operators doesn't take a rake from the tables or charge an entrance fee to play.

But the legislation prevents sites hosting the events from supplying the cards and chips to play poker or from advertising the tournaments. The move would impact the 20,000-some bars and pubs in Louisiana, excluding Orleans Parish.

While similar legislation brought forward by Triche last year couldn't get passed by the House last year, the new bill passed in a 3-1 vote Tuesday. If Senate approves the bill, it will go before Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, known for her anti-gambling stance.

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