Moneymaker’s Social Club in Kentucky nears planned September 1 opening

Haley Hintze
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Posted on: August 19, 2022 5:27 am EDT

Chris Moneymaker’s planned launching of a new social club offering poker continues on pace for a pre-Labor Day opening, with the new venue now looking at a possible Thursday, September 1 opening. Called Moneymaker’s Social Club, what is planned as an eight-table room will debut in Paducah, Kentucky, in a largely rural area with plenty of poker interest but no formal venue competition.

Paducah, a city of about 25,000 near Kentucky’s far western tip, lies adjacent to the Ohio River across from southern Illinois, not far east of the Ohio River’s confluence with the Mississippi. It’s two hours or so to the closest major metropolitan area, Nashville, Tennessee, and even farther to the only other social poker room in Kentucky. That’s the Royal Social Poker Club in London, in the east central part of the state.

As its name applies, Moneymaker’s Social Club will operate under the “social poker” business model that has proved effective in other states. The room won’t charge rake, but will instead offer seating on a membership-fee basis.

Club approved by state license in early June

Moneymaker’s Social Club received formal approval from the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office in early June, allowing the club to begin renovations in a space formerly housing a COVID-19 testing clinic. The space is part of a small commercial/professional building on Paducah’s western edge, close to Interstate 24, the major highway serving the region.

Moneymaker, the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event champion, is the sole owner of the startup. Moneymaker also remains a brand representative for Americas Cardroom, meaning he’ll be very busy as the new social club gets off the ground. Moneymaker’s poker offering has drawn a handful of reports and a bit of social commentary, as evidenced recently by his friend, Phil Hellmuth, on Twitter:

The new club isn’t entirely a low-risk startup. Though Moneymaker has received local and state approval for the social club, it’s still in a region known for its heavy anti-gambling sentiment, part of why only the Royal Social club is the only other offering in the state to date. The state’s commercial gambling offerings are dominated by the horseracing industry, including prominent Louisville-based Churchill Downs, Inc.

Poker itself also has a curious history in Kentucky. It’s the only U.S. state which conducted any sort of “successful” litigation against international operators who offered online poker or other gambling services to Kentuckians during online poker’s early years. In a historic lawsuit against PokerStars, aided by the questionable application of antiquated anti-gambling statutes, Kentucky eventually wrested a $300 million settlement from Stars’ current owner, Flutter Entertainment PLC, that lasted over a decade and involved three different PokerStars ownership groups.

Featured image source: Twitter / @cmoneymaker