Posted on: October 10, 2022, 03:35h.
Last updated on: October 10, 2022, 04:13h.
On Sunday, the largest and most popular poker club in Texas was raided in the middle of a tournament. Police fined at least 49 players, arrested six staff members, and seized $132,840 in guaranteed prize money at the Watauga Social Lounge near Dallas.
According to Pokernews.com, the raid occurred during Day 2 of the venue’s $100K-guaranteed Fall Classic Poker Main Event. In addition to the prize pool, an undisclosed amount of cash on hand was taken. The players in attendance were each fined a reported $360.
Texas Book ‘Em
The reason for the raid is unknown at the time of this report. Gambling is illegal in the state of Texas. However, a loophole exists in Texas Penal Code 47.04, which permits poker clubs to operate if the games don’t bestow “economic benefit other than personal winnings.”
This makes it illegal for poker clubs to take rakes out of cash game pots. So poker “social clubs” operate throughout Texas, earning their income by charging membership and seat fees instead of rake. According to Pokernews.com, “most law enforcement seems to accept the rooms without much resistance. But raids in certain jurisdictions have occurred.” Despite the tax revenue they generate for the state, some in power want them all gone.
The search warrant obtained and tweeted by Pokernews.com shows that Tarrant County authorities were authorized to seize “currency, gambling proceeds, financial instruments, and or other items of value … relating to obtaining, transferring, secreting or spending large sums of money made from engaging in specified unlawful activities.” The warrant was signed by Judge George Gallagher on Friday morning.
The Watauga Social Lounge opened in January, with a grand opening ceremony attended by Watauga mayor Arthur L. Miner.
Dicey Time for Texas Poker
The raid on Watauga comes as the Texas Supreme Court is expected to hear a Dallas lawsuit challenging the operation of the Texas Card House. In January, the city’s board of adjustment revoked the club’s certificate of occupancy.
The owner kept the room open while filing an appeal, which he won in March. If the case makes it that high, a ruling could negatively impact poker rooms throughout the state.
Owners of the Watauga Social Lounge told Pokernews.com they plan to issue a statement in the coming days.