Since 1937, Texas has prohibited business owners from owning and operating private poker rooms and establishments. For decades, Texan poker players have lamented this law and have attempted to skirt it in an effort to win big. It seems as though they have finally found a lawful way to do so, for now at least.
The Current Legislation
Though other forms of gambling are legal — horse racing, casino games, bingo — Texas law bans third parties from benefiting from a bet and all betters must have an equal opportunity to win. This means that an establishment cannot collect any portion of the bets won or lost. This has spurred a surge of underground poker clubs that take large percentages of bets and leave patrons with no legal protections.
The New Poker Room
In our state of industrious entrepreneurs, a group of poker enthusiasts has attempted to bring poker back to the main table while obeying all Texas state laws. A new club in Houston introduces a new model: players purchase either a monthly membership or day pass and play poker to their hearts’ desire. The club takes nothing from their bets, but instead recoups its costs from the membership fees and sale of food. No alcohol is served in the establishment and dealers are not tipped with chips. So far, clubs have opened in Austin, North Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston.
In order to cover their bases, Michael Eakman and several other entrepreneurs communicated with city attorney’s and were very transparent about their plans. They are not trying to hide from the law, but work within it. “I certainly don’t want to challenge anyone to bring a court case, but I think at the end of the day we’re handling this by being proactive instead of reactive is the way to do this … There are no regulations and guidelines other than the narrow scope of a very vague law,” Eakman said regarding his club, Poker Mint.
Protecting Your Rights
Operating a business and earning a healthy profit while obeying all state and federal business laws can be challenging, which is why you need an established and experienced business law attorney by your side. Porter, Rogers, Dahlman & Gordon, P.C. has been serving the needs of Texans in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Austin for nearly 50 years and can do the same for you and your business. Contact us today at one of our locations:
Corpus Christi: (361) 880-5808
San Antonio: (210) 736-3900