Top Shelf Poker Room has been raided by police in Texas after being accused of running an illegal gambling operation.
The authorities entered the property late last week and confiscated gambling paraphernalia, various documents and ledgers, and reportedly everybody’s money!
Top Shelf Poker Room Busted
how many people here are aware the top shelf poker room in tyler got raided a day or 2 ago and the police kept everyones money? i almost went to it after i left coushatta instead of waco.
— tony bigcharles (@sevencard2003) March 11, 2022
Sheriff Larry Smith told the media that investigators had been working undercover for some months to collect evidence that Top Shelf Poker Room was breaking the law.
Is Poker Illegal in Texas Now?
The legal status of live poker in the state of Texas has long been thought of as a grey area. Whether that is down to the wording of the law, or the decision of the authorities not to prosecute, is up for debate.
But things might be changing, which could indicate bad news on the horizon for other poker rooms in Texas such as Doug Polk’s new venture.
The traditional view is that Texan poker clubs must be registered as private social clubs where members pay fees for access to the facilities and no rake is charged in return.
Top Shelf Poker Room also had a charity donation policy in attempt to make the business legal, Sheriff Larry Smith disagreed with the view and explained that making any profit at all is why they are breaking the law.
“…even though you donate to charity from the very beginning in the setup of poker, how you pay for it and how you operate it makes it legal or illegal.”
District Attorney Jacob Putman added:
“The Texas Penal Code Chapter prohibits gambling in a public place and where a person receives any economic benefit other than personal winnings,”
“Any gambling with economic benefit to the business is illegal. We’ve seen this in other counties operating gambling rooms, hoping they won’t get shut down and hoping the law won’t be enforced. But this is the first one in Smith County in a while.”
In total there are 60 poker rooms operating in Texas under a social private members club model. But, for now, it seems that the decision to prosecute or not is being taken at a local level.
It’s also not just Smith County that is taking an interest in live poker clubs. Texas Card House in Northwest Dallas lost its permit in January after only opening its doors for business in 2020.
The poker room is still open as of today but times are changing as law enforcement appears to be changing their stance on how the law is interpreted. Watch out Doug Polk!
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