Another Texas social-poker club has been raided alleging the operation of an illegal-gambling enterprise. On Sunday, the Watauga Social Lounge, in Watauga, Texas, a suburb of Fort Worth, was raided by local police acting under a Tarrant County (Texas) search warrant and seizure order.
Social-media posts offered by players and one presumed staffer indicate that all players present were issued citations and $360 fines, while all staff and management present at the strip mall-located poker club were detained.
The raid took place on the final day of a $100,000 guaranteed tournament offered by the club. The timing of the raid for the tourney’s final day, when most or all of the prize money was to be distributed, may have been intentional. Onlookers reported that the club was virtually emptied of its tables and chairs, decks, chips, and other items related to the business’s operations, with everything loaded into a police truck and hauled away as evidence.
Watauga club embroiled in February ‘hidden rake’ controversy
The Watauga Social Lounge made headlines in late February when it evicted a player, Ben Ross, from another poker tournament being run by the club. Ross argued with the club’s management over hidden rake being withheld by the club from re-buys in the tourney, and the club in turn bounced Ross over the accusations and additional comments wherein he referred to the club as a “rathole”. Ross’s eviction occurred just before that tourney reached the money, with Ross still in the event.
Not disclosing rake being taken from tourney re-buys is itself a controversial poker topic, but a potentially larger issue related to Sunday’s raid is that rake, specifically, is illegal under the Texas gambling codes through which clubs such as the Watauga Social Lounge operate. Whether or not the Ross incident in February triggered local law enforcement interest in the club’s operations has yet to be disclosed. The club is one of several “social poker” clubs in Texas to be raided in recent months under various pretenses.
The warrant targeting the club called for the identification and seizure of “Currency, gambling proceeds, financial instruments, and or other items of value and evidence of financial transactions relating to obtaining, transferring, secreting or spending large sums of money made from engaging in specified unlawful activities.” Gambling equipment of all types and surveillance equipment as operated by the club were also among the items targeted for seizure. The Watauga Police Department has yet to issue a public statement in connection with Sunday’s raid.
Featured image source: Watauga Social Lounge