Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…Texan poker waters that is…a legal threat to the Texas Card House in Dallas could see it go out of business. Other cardrooms in the city are also rumoured to be in trouble with the authorities.
It’s hard to keep Texas cardrooms out of the news these days; Doug Polk and fellow high-profile streamers Andrew Neeme and Brad Owen recently bought a chunk of a Houston poker room, Johnny Chan was embroiled in a financial scandal at another Houston venue, and Sammy Farha got punched in the mouth at yet another of the city’s poker clubs.
Dallas had pretty much avoided the headlines (apart from some recent cash game angleshooting discussions!) until this week that is when the Texas Card House basically had their licence to operate revoked.
The surprising, even shocking development saw the cardroom hit with a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) revocation, claiming they were in breach of state regulations by “Keeping a Gambling Place”.
The legal hit was delivered last month, just over a year after the cardroom was given a permit to run poker games – which under Texan law cannot involve taking a rake.
That’s why Texan cardrooms typically operate a social club membership system, with fees in place of the rake. Even though the entire approach has long been a potential legal minefield.
Ryan Crow, CEO of the Texas Card House, told local reporters that he had spent “hundreds of hours” dealing with lawyers and city officials to ensure he was operating within the law.
With more than 200 employees and between 400 and 500 players on a daily basis, any legal threat will be a hard blow to the local poker scene and community.
The CBS11 report on the decision to target the city’s cardrooms featured the local councilman, Omar Narvaez, who was unhappy at the situation.
“I think it’s unfair that all of a sudden all of these COs for all of these card rooms were suddenly revoked,” Narvaez stated.
He added: “Unfortunately, our city attorney has decided to change the idea of what he believes to be the rules of the card under the law.”
The legal notice sent to the Texas Card House reflects this latter point, stating: “the [city] is required to revoke a certificate of occupancy if [it] determines that it was issued in error.”
Who guards the guardians?
It is certainly not the first time that poker in Texas has seen a startling about turn involving legal ramifications.
The Post Oak Poker club in Harris County were one of two clubs hit with multiple arrests and felony charges after the District Attorney took a harsh line on alleged organised crime and money laundering.
However, DA Kim Ogg should have been looking a bit closer to home, as it transpired that her financial crimes consultant – Amir Mireskandari – had scammed the poker club out of $250,000.
Strangely enough, when this came to light, the charges against the Post Oak Poker club were quickly dropped.
A1 today: Attys for a #Houston poker club say a @kimoggforda consultant leveraged his ties to the DA to convince the club to pay $250k to lobby for a city gambling ordinance. But it was all a scam, and when the club asked ?s, they got raided in a DA probe.https://t.co/3i95F4hqis
— Zach Despart (@zachdespart) July 18, 2019
Back to the here and now, and the Texas Card House is still open for business, having filed an appeal against the revocation of their Certificate of Occupancy.
They also took to social media to assuage any concerns players might have about the situation, particularly with regard to funds.
“As we understand the concern, we can assure you that we would honor any outstanding chips or balances for our members in the event that we are shut down.
The post continued: “However, we feel strongly about our ability to overcome this battle and foresee this process taking a long time in the interim. One of the many perks of playing at TCH locations, we are bigger than just one location. Additionally, we back our product 100% and are committed to doing the right things by our players, staff, and community.”
Champions Poker off the menu
Poker had already taken a hit in Dallas, with a similar decision to revoke the CO of the Champions Club, a high-end diner that was hoping to offer poker as well as steaks.
The members-only club had been denied a licence to solely run as a poker club. However, it was granted one after including the restaurant in their plans. That decision was overturned, however, after an appeal was lodged by angry residents.
The residents petitioned the authorities, claiming “we should have the right to decide whether a gambling operation opens so close to our family homes, schools, churches, businesses, and parks. We vehemently oppose the operation of any organized poker/gambling venues adjacent to our neighborhoods.”
Two other Dallas cardrooms – Poker House Dallas and Shuffle 214 – were rumoured to have been hit by similar legal notices. Although they are both still open for business. We will keep you updated on any developments.
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