Cincinnati social-poker club’s owner sues after sheriff’s office threatens raid

Haley Hintze
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Published: April 30, 2022 12:22 AM EDT

The owner of a new social poker club in Cincinnati, Ohio, has filed suit against local and county authorities who have threatened to raid and shutter his club unless he halts his venue’s live-poker operations. Corey Albertson, who owns Cincinnati’s Action Factory Social Club, has filed suit against multiple Hamilton County (Ohio) and Sycamore Township entities and officials after a zoning approval issued in February was yanked with little explanation last month.

Albertson launched Action Factory Cincinnati using the “social club” framework employed in Texas and elsewhere, in which the host venue does not charge rake, but instead sells daily memberships that allow players access to the tables and games. Despite being viewed in several other jurisdictions around the United States as a valid circumvention of existing gambling laws, Albertson’s lawsuit states that the March revocation letter from the Sycamore Township zoning officer, Skylor Miller, declared that the operation was illegal and that sheriff’s deputies would raid the venue if it opened.

The lawsuit seeks to have the club’s operating plans declared officially legal. Albertson also plans to claim significant damages from the ongoing delays and the investment he’s already made into the club. “I have sustained a total loss of my business, the use and enjoyment of my leased property, and my business has sustained reputational harm that cannot be repaired,” he stated, in an attachment to the lawsuit.

Club may have opened for play on limited basis

Whether or not Albertson’s Action Factory Cincinnati is open for business is itself uncertain from published reports and websites. In a feature on the story published by the Cincinnati Enquirer, the club’s opening was reported to have been put on hold following the revocation notice and Albertson’s filing of the lawsuit. “The club wanted to open in its doors in mid-March, but had to hold off,” the story claimed.

“Action Factory will have no financial interest in whether its members play penny-ante poker or for higher stakes,” the Enquirer reported that the suit declares, inferring that the club had yet to open.

However, posts on the Action Factory Cincinnati Facebook and Twitter accounts indicate that the club may have opened for cash-game action only on at least a limited basis, beginning in late March. Limited reviews posted on the PokerAtlas website also include claims that the club was open at least temporarily, though most recent reviews indicate the club is rarely, if ever, open at the present time.

The club itself is located in a neighborhood on Cincinnati’s far northeast side, and appears (via Google Maps) to be located in a strip mall immediately adjacent to Cincinnati’s Deer Park High School. Whether the proximity to the school triggered significant neighborhood complaints that in turn led to the zoning revocation is unclear. Such a “NIMBY” (Not In My Back Yard) wave of residential complaints triggered pushback in Dallas, Texas, when a club attempted to open in an upscale neighborhood near a country club. While that club never opened, it triggered a failed effort by Dallas officials to close all social-poker clubs in that large Texas city.

Featured image source: Action Factory Cincinnati