The Texas Card House (TCH) Dallas’s Certificate of Occupancy (COA) was revoked in January 2022. TCH received a letter from authorities that mentioned the cancellation of their license. There was no clear explanation but the letter communicated that permit is being revoked for ‘keeping a gambling place’.
Keeping in view the importance of the issue, the board briefly discussed if poker was legal within the city, on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. The TCH poker room won an appeal with the Board of Adjustment (BOA) by a 5-0 vote.
One council member believes that there was a political motive behind banning TCH. Kathleen Frankford also explained that she was disappointed in the whole process. She said that a possible public backlash or any other political reason might be the cause of changing the opinion. Frankford is clear about the business, and she thinks it is doing what it has to do.
Was it Legal to Start a Poker Room?
Ryan Crow, Texas Card House CEO, submitted a proposal to the Dallas City Council in which he mentioned that he wants to operate a poker club within the city limits. Chris Caso, the current city attorney who served in a different position at that time, supported Ryan. He said that the business model is a membership-based poker club which is perfectly legal.
Crow ran his business within the legal limits of the approval in 2019. Some of the city lawmakers are in doubt about the legality of the TCH and other poker rooms, three years after the approval, which is quite interesting.
Kathleen Frankford is the Executive Director at the Texas Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus. She defended the stance of TCH in the BOA meeting. Frankford clearly stated that revoking the certificate of occupancy by the City authorities was never a good idea. She also said that the City had all the information and made the decision that the business was running legally and within the state law.
Current Texas Laws on Poker
Any online or land-based gambling is illegal in Texas (except on some Indian reservations). Interestingly, there is a flaw in the Texas Penal Code 47.04, which opens a door for live poker.
According to this section, if the games are fair for all players, and occur in a ‘private place’ and nobody receives any economic benefit except personal winnings then it is legal, which makes the poker game legal.
Some define the term ‘economic benefit’ as not taking rake out of pots which makes your business legal. Texas’s casinos operate as clubs as they have no land-based poker rooms. They charge the players on monthly basis or per hourly seat fee to play.
Many other poker rooms in Texas and TCH’s business model follow the same rule of not taking rake out of pots. Crow’s business has four rooms Austin, Dallas, Houston, and Rio Grande Valley. Also, members of these rooms have to pay a $30 monthly membership fee or a $300 yearly fee to access the club plus a $10 daily fee for a seat at a poker table.
There are other reports about targeting other poker rooms. Top Shelf Poker Room in Flint, Texas was also on the raid list due to the allegations of illegal gambling. Top Shelf’s operations are now facing immediate bans.
Ryan Crow is happy and clear that the Texas Card House Won a legal battle. Also, he said it might be the best opportunity to highlight and stop any politically motivated attacks on the poker rooms.
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