Gaming law in Arizona allows poker games to take place only at licensed casinos in the state. However, a poker club in Arizona called the Poker Union club believes that shouldn’t be the case and decided that it had the right to offer poker games in the state as poker was a game of skill and not chance.
The club used its website to openly promote itself as the “The No. 1 Private Poker Club in the Valley”. The Poker Union club marketed itself as a member’s only club and listed the variety of poker games that it would host. The club organized poker games on a nightly basis that started out at $1/2 and also hosted afternoon games at $2/5. A weekly scheduled was also published where the buy-ins were fixed between $20 and $100.
These bold promotions caught the attention of the Arizona Department of Gaming who placed the club under investigation for a long period of time. Last week, the authorities along with the Department of Gaming raided the club and addressed three of the organizers for running an illegal gambling operation. They were produced in court on Monday and charged with a number of counts that included promoting gambling and illegal control of a criminal enterprise.
The Poker Union website states “Poker was played in Arizona long before casinos took over the game and claimed it as their own. It is time we take back what has always been ours and reclaim a game enjoyed around the world by men and women of every age, race and creed. We will champion the cause of the Poker Players Alliance that poker is a sport; a game of skill more than mere chance or dumb luck, and not gambling in the same vein as other casino games where the house has an active stake and decidedly advantageous odds.”
The Department of Gaming stated that this wasn’t a house game being hosted for fun and entertainment. The Poker Union club was running a very profitable poker business and was making as much as $10,000 per week during the year it was opened. Unlike a house game, where poker was played for fun and entertainment, the club made money from every single game it hosted, irrespective of whether players won or lost.
The underground Poker club raids made more news than the Arizona State Poker Championship which is taking place this week at the Talking Stick Resort in Phoenix.