Texas Legislature To Once Again Consider Bills To Clarify Eight-Liner Rules

Posted on: February 9, 2021, 11:42h. 

Last updated on: February 10, 2021, 11:45h.

Soon, many eight-liner gaming machines may be illegal in Texas, according to recently proposed legislation. Exceptions would be made if individual towns, precincts, or counties vote to approve them.

Police have seized illegal eight liners in Texas
Eight-liner gaming machines in Waco, Texas, shown here. The proposed legislation would more clearly regulate eight liners in Texas. (Image: Waco Tribune-Herald)
An eight liner resembles a slot machine. Depending on the type, a player “wins” if a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal row of. objects line up. Eight liners now operate in the state under an unclear part of the law. Players can use the machines for entertainment.

But no prize can be given out that has a value of more than $5. To get around the law, some businesses will give winners groceries or a form of debit card for a retail store.

Earlier attempts to clearly regulate eight liners failed to get approval from the legislature. Now, to clarify the legal status of eight liners, rules are included in two new bills introduced by Rep. Richard Pena Raymond (D-Laredo).

Proposed Regulation

One attempt to regulate eight liners is House Bill 647. The other is House Joint Resolution 37. The joint resolution is a state constitutional amendment that would be voted on during a November statewide referendum. HB 647 could only be effective if the voters also approve the constitutional amendment.

The legislation would not regulate eight liners that pay out less than $5. Also, eight liners could not pay out more than $1,500 under the legislation. In addition, someone who operated an eight liner that paid out more than $1,500 and less than $20,000 could face imprisonment under the bills, according to The Texan, a statewide news organization.

More serious prison time could result if the eight liners paid out more than $20,000 and less than $100,000. That would be a third-degree felony.

Even more serious prison time would result for those operating an eight liner with a payout of more than $100,000. That would be a second-degree felony.

The new bills give control to voters in the most local form of government. That means a justice precinct or a municipality’s election on eight liners would overrule a county’s election, The Texan said.

Texas Police Sometimes Seize Illegal Eight Liners

Eight liners are found in many Texas communities, especially in South Texas. Last month, two police raids in Hood County led police to seize 88 illegal eight liners, according to KXAS, a Fort Worth TV station.

Such machines often are found in the state’s corner stores and game rooms, according to Mark P. Jones, a political science fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute.

No Texan in a metro area lives further than 15 minutes from one, in spite of efforts by local governments to shut them down,” Jones recently told Casino.org.

In October, thieves falsely claiming to be from the Texas Gaming Commission, which does not exist, seized eight liners from a Houston-area gas station.

Gaming Expansion Has Dire Outlook, Dan Patrick Says

Meanwhile, movement on legalizing sports betting or commercial casinos in Texas appears to be unlikely during the current legislative session.

A bill to pave the way for commercial gaming properties and a related proposal to allow sports wagers will not be enacted by the legislature any time soon, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) said on Tuesday.

However, the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, MLB’s Texas Rangers, and NBA’s Dallas Mavericks are backing proposals that would legalize sports betting, the Dallas Morning News reported on Monday. The teams joined a new organization called the Sports Betting Alliance.

In recent months, Las Vegas Sands Corp. has hired 51 lobbyists to push for legalized commercial casinos in the state.