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Texas Bingo Operators Win Suit To Lobby Lawmakers

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(credit: CBSDFW.COM)

(credit: CBSDFW.COM)

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HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that charitable bingo operators are allowed to use proceeds from their games to lobby Texas lawmakers on a variety of issues, including gambling.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling strikes down a provision of the Texas Bingo Enabling Act, on the books for more than three decades. The ruling late Monday says the law violates free speech rights of nonprofit organizations that hold bingo licenses.

“What the charities wanted to make sure was that they didn’t get pushed away,” said Attorney Anatole Barnstone to NewsRadio 1080 KRLD. “They wanted to be able to have their voices heard at the Legislature. They didn’t have a legal right to do that because the law said they couldn’t spend their Bingo money towards lobbying.”

About a dozen AMVETS and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, Indian tribal councils and Elks lodges from around the state filed suit in 2010 against the Texas Lottery Commission and its commissioners.

The suit contended for-profit gambling interests like horse and dog racing firms were allowed to use revenues “to influence the political process” but nonprofit groups were not.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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