Mar 21, 2022 - Business

Dallas wants to shutter the poker rooms it once approved

A strip mall card room in Dallas

One of the card rooms the city is trying to close. Photo: Brandon Donner for Axios

Dallas is the only city in Texas trying to crack down on legal card rooms.

Why it matters: If courts agree with city attorneys, it could create a legal precedent that brings down the burgeoning legal poker scene across the state.

  • A broad interpretation of Texas’ gambling laws might also jeopardize non-profit events like charity casino nights.

Flashback: With the city’s approval, Texas Card House opened in October 2020. But in Dec. 2021, Texas Card House CEO Ryan Crow received a letter from the city revoking his certificate of occupancy and instructing him to close his doors.

Details: One of the chief architects of the city’s war on poker rooms is senior assistant attorney Gary Powell, who was hired by the city in 2021 after a 36-year career in private practice, per a recent story in D Magazine.

  • Powell has argued that poker rooms violate the law — even if they are private establishments that don’t take a “rake” or a portion of each pot — because gambling is specifically outlawed in the Texas Constitution.

Zoom out: Card rooms in Texas have become especially popular in the poker world, attracting the most popular poker vloggers on YouTube and card players from around the globe. TCH often live streams big games.

  • Texas poker players have earned a reputation for betting wildly. It’s not uncommon to see thousands of dollars bet on a single hand.

The big picture: Before these legal card rooms opened, North Texas poker players had to travel to Oklahoma casinos or play in illicit underground games that were prone to robbery and cheating.

What’s next: The Board of Adjustment is scheduled to rule on Texas Card House’s appeal of the revocation of its certificate of occupancy this week.


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