After shutting it down slightly more than a year earlier, the Dallas City Council has passed regulations that will allow for the first officially city sanctioned poker room to be opened in the home of the Cowboys, the Mavericks and the Stars. It will join a sister card room that is already in existence in Dallas, but it could only be a temporary situation.

Battle in City Government Works Out

Owner Ryan Crow of the Texas Card House originally had petitioned the City Council in January 2019 to be able to open up a poker room. Back in a City Council meeting at that time, however, Crow was denied a business license, despite all but one property in the strip mall supporting the move. In that Council meeting, Crow’s proposition only garnered eight of the necessary 12 votes.

There was one caveat to that January vote, however. Crow could appear before the Council again to resubmit the application via a waiver or could wait two years to try again. Crow decided the time was right to strike on Wednesday, going in front of the Dallas City Council again and resubmitting his application. This time around, the outcome was much more to Crow’s liking.

First off, Crow was able to get the lone holdout from the last time the proposition was in front of the Council to come aboard the project. EF Properties switched its stance when it was able to get a clause put in the contract that it would be reviewed in two years. A letter that acquiesced EF Properties position stated that “a private card house might not fit with the future uses” at the property but, in the meantime, it was allowable.

Dallas poker players will have to wait a bit before the property can be opened in the Valley View Center, or what is being called the “Midtown” district. Crow states that it will take about three to four months for the property to be developed. This would put the opening date of the Texas Card House II (another Texas Card House property exists in another area of Dallas at the Sam Moon Shopping Center) at some point in May or June.

Lots of Questions on Texas Poker

The question of poker clubs in Texas has been raging for the last few years. Under Texas law, there are no laws against playing poker, but there are strict gambling laws. Some entrepreneurial spirits looked the law over, however, and found some loopholes in the gambling laws.

Under Texas law, to constitute illegal gambling there has to be money taken as a rake or a fee from the actual play of the game. The card rooms got around this by taking nothing from the pots but charging a “membership fee” for players to enter the building. Along with some food and non-alcoholic beverages sold by the poker rooms, the businesses don’t make anything from the actual PLAY of poker on the tables; all the money on the tables goes to the players at the tables, not to the house.

This loophole led to the expansion of poker across the Lone Star State. Austin became a hotbed of poker “clubs,” alongside San Antonio and Houston, a couple of other major metropolitan areas. These clubs were nearly torpedoed last year when the District Attorney of Houston, Kim Ogg, had Houston law enforcement raid two clubs, the Prime Social Poker Club and Post Oak Poker Club, under the belief that they were laundering money through their operations. Those efforts were killed, however, when it came to light that Ogg’s very own office had given the green light to these operations and, allegedly, one person involved with the DA’s office was writing legislation to get the poker clubs regulated by the city of Houston. That brought Ogg’s case against the card rooms to an abrupt end, with all the charges against the owners of the two rooms dismissed.

The state legislature has been reluctant to step up and examine the gaming laws in the state, leaving it to the county and city officials to decide what actions to take. For the most part (other than the Houston situation), they have decided to let the poker clubs be rather than try to enforce a law with a great deal of gray area. It is significant, however, that with the new regulations in Dallas, the Texas Card House will become the first poker club operation to be allowed by any city officials in the state of Texas. Whether it starts a change in the overall laws remains to be seen.

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