Texas AG stays mum on poker rooms
While silence on a subject does not necessarily mean acceptance, poker rooms in Texas are taking it that way. Texas Attorney General (AG) Ken Paxton clammed up last Friday, refusing to offer an opinion on the matter, leading poker rooms to understand that there is still no legal precedent in the state to prohibit their operations.
Last January, Geanie Morrison, the State Representative for Victoria, asked Paxton's office to comment on membership-based poker clubs in the Lone Star State. Specifically, she asked, “Are poker gambling enterprises that charge membership or other fees or receive other compensation from gamblers playing poker—but do not receive a ‘rake’—permitted under Texas law?”
The response finally came on July 4. “When a legal matter is being litigated, the courts are generally the appropriate forum for resolving the issue," said the chair of Paxton's opinion committee, Virginal Hoelscher. The response was the boilerplate response due to a lawsuit currently underway between two poker rooms in San Antonio and Austin.
According to Texas law, which should be enough for the courts and the AG to offer an opinion, poker is legal provided it is played in a private place (a members-only club is private), the house doesn't take a cut (in a members-only club, the house takes nothing) and all players stand the same chances at winning or losing (poker has already proven that anyone can win, or lose). There really isn't much else that needs to be said on the matter.
The 30-plus poker rooms that are operating legally in the state should be able to continue their operations without fear of reprisal from the government. They are, unequivocally, acting in accordance with the law.