Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has remained mum on the issue of poker rooms in the state. A lawsuit is ongoing between two clubs in Austin and San Antonio and Paxton’s office has decided to leave it to the courts. Paxton’s spokesperson affirmed that it is the agency’s longstanding policy to not offer any opinion on issues that are subject to ongoing legal proceedings.
As a result, Texas district attorneys and local law enforcement will still have the final say on the legality of poker clubs across the state. Most of these clubs are charging memberships, hourly rates or seat fee with no table rake.
Poker Permitted Under Strict Criteria
Texas law states that poker is only allowed if it meets the following criteria: gambling must be done privately; no person received any other economic or financial benefits other than personal winnings; the chances of winning and the risks of losing were the same for all players, except for the luck or skill factor coming into play.
While local law enforcement in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have forced the closure of a number of poker rooms, poker rooms have in Austin, Houston and San Antonio have started to increase.
Some local officials have raised their concern on the matter with State Rep. Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria) asking Paxton in January to give his opinion on legality of such poker clubs.  The AG remained silent, leaving the state’s poker laws in limbo. Councilman Greg Travis of Houston city, a vocal and staunch critic of poker clubs, also expressed his disappointment at Paxton’s office for not offering clearer directives.
Operators of poker clubs insist their business models are within the law, arguing that in essence, they are similarly operating as golf country clubs, and that they are only collecting revenue from hourly fees and club memberships to make use of the facility.
Two Poker Tours To Visit Texas In 2018
The presence of a number of clubs in Texas has encouraged poker operators to make a pit stop in the Lone Star state. Two major poker tours are scheduled to take a stop in Texas in 2018.  The Card Player Poker Tour will head to Texas to play the Lone Star State Poker Championship, the first ever major poker tournament stop in the state. The event will take place July 30 – August 5, 2018 at the Post Oak Poker Club in Houston.
The Freerolls Poker Club will host the WPTDeepStacks, a $1000 buy-in event, running from September 26 – October 1. Freerolls is also present in Houston and club organizers say the event will push through as the lawsuit plays out. Trent Daniel, Freerolls co-founder, said they were confident about stopping over at the Freerolls club because they believed the club was fully complying with Texas gaming law.
More than 26 million people live in Texas, making it the country’s second highest most populous state. It is also home for a huge number of poker players and enthusiasts, who have gone on to become World Series of Poker (WSOP) champions over the years. Whatever the court’s stance and whether or not Paxton’s office will finally give an opinion on the matter, the growing number of clubs tells us that the people of Texas are so ready to embrace legal poker.
Safe To Play At Freerolls Club
There could be some poker players in Texas who are in two minds about playing at these poker clubs as they don’t want to get in trouble with the law. Poker players need not have any of those concerns when they play at Freerolls it has also received an endorsement from Trent Daniel.
In a statement, Daniel said “One of the most encouraging factors for FreeRolls is that the basis of the lawsuit stems from clubs charging seat rental or time charges at the poker table.  FreeRolls has always maintained a policy of strict complete adherence to Texas law, and we have felt that the seat rentals and time charges could be legally problematic. This lawsuit seems to validate our interpretation of the law.”
WPTDeepStacks is excited to be entering the Texas market for the first time and is confident that this stop will the first amongst many in this emerging poker market.
 

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