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Judge orders Texas poker room to stay closed

Poker rooms in Texas continue struggling to stay alive

A Dallas poker business has been forced to close its doors after a judge granted the city’s request to shut it down for operating without a permit. Poker House Dallas shut down in June, seven months after the city sued it for not having a valid occupancy permit.

Dallas County District Court Judge Dale Tilley found in favor of the city in May. Last week, the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Texas dismissed Poker House Dallas’ appeal of the temporary injunction against the Northwest Dallas business.

The closure of poker businesses in Dallas results from the city’s recent efforts to crack down on these establishments because city officials now believe these businesses violate the statewide ban on gambling. But murkiness in a section of the state law has allowed dozens of poker rooms to operate in cities like Houston and Austin.

La Zona Rosa Cabaret was issued a certificate of occupancy in 2017. Business operators then told the city it was changing the business name and floor plan to become a private poker club. Judge Tilley ruled that the business never applied for or received a new occupancy certificate allowing them to change the permitted use of the property.

Gambling is illegal in Texas, but the law allows private poker games as long as no parties benefit financially except for their personal winnings and no players have an advantage other than their individual skills.

Assistant director in the city’s planning and urban design office, Andrea Gilles, said her department intends to present a draft of an ordinance to the zoning ordinance advisory in the fall that could allow legal poker within Dallas. City council member Chad West said he hopes to see a plan presented sooner than later.

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