Poker passes first legalization hurdle in Louisiana

The Louisiana House Criminal Justice Committee last week unanimously passed legislation aimed at legalizing poker tournaments in bars and restaurants across the state. Sponsored by Rep. Warren Triche, House Bill (H.B.) 1149 would allow Texas Hold'em tournaments to be run in businesses on a weekly basis provided no buy-in is charged and no rake is taken by the host establishment.

Local media reports that part of the reason the bill was pushed through to the state Legislature for debate was to challenge Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco, an ardent opponent of gambling.

Blanco has promised to veto any legislation seeking to expand gambling. According to, the governor "sent her chief lawyer, Terry Ryder, to remind members of the House Criminal Justice Committee of her opposition."

"It's personal now that the governor has tried to force the issue," said Triche, who feels Blanco has interfered with the legislative process.

"She's trying to intimidate us," Triche said. "She's overstepping her bounds."

If passed, H.B. 1149 will allow businesses to run poker tournaments once a week for patrons of legal gambling age. In addition to not charging a buy-in or collecting rake, the host establishment would be forbidden to operate the tournament, provide supplies (poker tables, chips, etc.), or advertise the event.

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