Dallas card-room legal battle resumes as city official sues to block BOA pro-poker ruling

Haley Hintze
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Posted on May 6, 2022 4:28 pm EDT

The legal battle over whether “social” poker rooms may operate in Dallas, Texas, has been reopened. The latest episode pits Dallas against Dallas, as the city’s interim building official, David Session, has filed suit against Dallas’s own Board of Adjustment (BOA), seeking to overturn the BOA ruling last month that itself overturned a permit-revocation order directed at Dallas’s Texas Card House.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Session filed the action against the BOA after it ruled in Texas Card House’s favor, determining that the building department’s revocation of TCH Dallas’s occupancy permit was invalid, since the operating conditions under which the permit was granted had not changed.

Dallas’s City Attorney’s office sought to revoke the occupancy permits of TCH Dallas and two other social-poker clubs after a fourth planned poker club, Champions Social, raised city-wide anti-gambling ire by attempting to open in one of Dallas’s more exclusive neighborhoods, near a prominent country club on the city’s far north side. Fueled by the anti-poker complaints, Dallas’s city attorney’s office then “re-evaluated” the Texas state gambling regulations and their application to the way the social-poker clubs operate, typically on a membership basis, and declared the clubs to be illegal.

Other active and planned poker clubs in Dallas targeted by reversal

Texas Card House Dallas wasn’t the only active poker club in the city to be targeted. Besides Champions’ failed attempt to open for business, another planned club, “Dallas Poker Club,” was also denied an occupancy permit last year.

Meanwhile, an active poker club on Dallas’s east side, Shuffle 214, was also issued an occupancy-permit revocation according to the Dallas Morning News report. An initial hearing on that revocation was postponed and is now scheduled for May 27.

The local outlet did not offer information on the other known poker club in Dallas, Poker House Dallas, which operates on the city’s west side. That’s the Dallas club in which Mike Matusow was briefly reported as joining as part of management, until that deal fell apart and Matusow moved on to a different arrangement with Austin’s 52 Social.

Dallas will pay for both sides in legal action

Session’s legal action against the city’s Board of Adjustment means that the city of Dallas is bound to pay a set amount — up to $50,000, according to the DMN — for legal fees generated by both parties. The unusual situation is also likely to generate more legal action in case of another reversal in the situation, leaving Texas Card House Dallas and potentially the other active Dallas clubs to renew their legal efforts to stay open.

Should Dallas’s city attorney’s office ultimately prevail, the situation will also place increasing pressure on the many dozens of similar social-poker clubs that have opened across Texas in recent years.

Session’s lawsuit on behalf of the city also highlights a curiosity of the city’s Board of Adjustment as currently configured. Dallas’s BOA consists of 15 citizens who are appointed, rather than being elected, and those 15 are then divided further into three five-person panels, who hear complaints such as Texas Card House Dallas’s claims of an unlawful permit revocation. Shuffle 214’s upcoming appeal, though based on the same issue, technically could be ruled on in the opposite manner, adding still more controversy to the situation.

Featured image source: Texas Card House Dallas