Joshua C. Tate


In 1851, a few years after Texas was admitted to the Union, the Texas Supreme Court was asked in Crow v. State to decide whether the licensed games of ten-pins and billiards fell within a general statutory prohibition of "gambling devices."' The statute mentioned several different games that were prohibited, namely "A, B, C, or E, D, or roulette, rowley powley, or rouge et noir, or... faro bank, monte bank, or any other gamingtable, or bank of the like kind." Although the defendant did not bet at any of the enumerated games, he did bet at ten-pins, which the state alleged to be another type of "gambling device." Ruling in favor of the defendant, the court decided that ten-pins and billiards were different from the other games named in the statute:

"It is not a reasonable presumption that games so well known for centuries, without having undergone a change of name, should have been intended to be included in the vague expression of "gambling device.". .. We are brought to the conclusion, from what we conceive to be a fair construction of the language used, and taking in connection also with it the fact that billiard tables and tenpin alleys are licensed on the payment of tax, when no others are so taxed and licensed, that an indictment cannot be sustained for betting a game at either of those tables."