Additional information has been made public in the wake of the raid conducted on October 9 by Tarrant County (Texas) law enforcement against the Watauga Social Club, one of the largest “social poker” clubs operating in the state of Texas. The raid against the suburban Fort Worth club, done with the assistance of the Watauga Police Department, is the latest in a series of takedowns targeting social-poker clubs across the Lone Star State.
The most recent information to emerge comes from local Dallas-Forth Worth news outlets via Tarrant County court documents. In the immediate wake of the Sunday afternoon raid, an indeterminate number of players and employees of the club were arrested or issued citations connected with the club’s poker games. The update shows that ten people, all employees or management of the club, were arrested on charges alleging various illegal gambling activities. Each of the 49 players who were present at the time of the raid were issued $360 fines.
The club’s owner, Joe Vongkaysone, faces multiple charges, including participating in organized criminal activity, keeping a gambling place, and promoting illegal gambling. The legality of such social-poker clubs has been the subject of wide debate across the state.
More than $200,000 seized
The raid was timed to coincide with the final day of the Watauga Social Club’s Fall Classic Poker Tournament, which was advertised to have a $100,000 guaranteed prize pool, and actually built a $132,000 pool. The prize pool funds made up most of the money — over $200,000 total — seized by officers as part of the raid.
As widely suspected, the raid was preceded by an investigation conducted by the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Game Room Regulation Unit, in which undercover officers were sent to play inside the club. All gaming equipment was seized during the raid as well, including tables, cards, computers, televisions, and other items.
The Watauga Social Club has not commented publicly on the raid or illegal-gambling allegations to date. The club has posted a notice on Facebook acknowledging that it remains closed at the present time. The message reads as follows:
“Watauga Social Lounge is temporarily closed.
“Tarrant County Sheriff Game Room Regulations Department [seized] $200k cash (including the $132,840 prize pool money that belongs to the tournament players) and all of W.S.L equipment.
“For the members who received a citation, please send your contact information to email@example.com. We have a meeting on Monday with an attorney for legal representative for all tournament players who receive a citation from the Tarrant County sheriff’s department, and to get back the $132,840 that belongs to the tournament players.
“We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this has cause to our members, to our staff, to the poker community and to the city of Watauga.
“Thank you for the love and support we have been given. We hope to open back up soon.”
Featured image source: Facebook / Watauga Social Club