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Texas' Top Cop Declines Opinion On Poker Rooms

Social Poker Clubs Flourishing In Lone Star State

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The status quo pertaining to Texas hold’em in Texas can continue indefinitely.

The attorney general of Texas on Friday declined to issue an opinion on where the state’s rake-free poker industry stands with current law on the books. According to a report from khou.com, the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that ongoing litigation between two rival poker rooms in the state is the reason why an opinion can’t be offered at this time.

“Our agency has a longstanding policy of not issuing an opinion on an issue we know to be the subject of pending litigation,” a spokesperson for Paxton’s office said.

Paxton has been under pressure to make a clear opinion on the rooms that make money from membership fees and seat rentals, as well as food and beverage sales. The industry underscores the fact that 100 percent of poker pots, whether it be a cash game or tournament prize pool, are returned to the players. That is in stark contrast to poker rooms in Las Vegas, for example.

Why does the Texas government have such a hard time with poker? According to a poker player and businessman who opened one of the first poker clubs in 2015, lobbying efforts from from Louisiana, Nevada and Oklahoma “make sure Texas license plates come to their states.”

The aforementioned lawsuit, between a poker room in Austin and a poker room in San Antonio, reportedly goes to the heart of the legal loophole that has allowed the industry to flourish in recent years. An opinion from Paxton or a court ruling could determine the fate of the state’s fledgling social poker industry, which now includes more than two dozen rooms.

Under state law, the poker rooms can’t take a rake. However, what is being decided is whether the business models developed to bypass that rule are legal

Per khou.com, Paxton’s decision keeps interpretation of the law in the hands of local authorities.

Paxton’s lack of guidance on the poker clubs is in contrast to the state’s position on daily fantasy sports. In early 2016, Paxton issued an opinion that those games were illegal.