Doug Polk Launches Lobbying Group To Protect Texas Poker Rooms

Written By Aleeyah Jadavji on February 28, 2023
Doug Polk forms Texans for Texas Hold 'em to protect poker

Poker star Doug Polk has teamed up with several poker players and poker clubs throughout Texas to launch Texans for Texas Hold ’em.

The group aims to stop potential threats to the state’s card room industry. The group is lobbying for the passage of House Bill 2345. It would make membership-based clubs legal in Texas.

Texans for Texas Hold ’em is an organization looking to protect the poker industry here in the great state of Texas,” Polk, co-owner of The Lodge Card Club in Round Rock, said in a video on the organization’s website.

Polk, poker clubs in Texas back HB 2345

Poker rooms are not legal in Texas. Online poker in Texas is also prohibited. There’s been no real effort to add online poker, but there’s more than 50 poker rooms across the state. Their continued existence is threatened by the courts and the Texas Capitol.

The key card clubs backing HB 2345 include Texas Card House, The Lodge Card Club, SA Card House and Champions Card House. They represent Texas’ largest cities: Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin.

Chapter 47 of the penal code outlines three main qualifiers that allow poker clubs in Texas to operate legally:

  • The gambling occurred in a “private place”
  • Nobody received any economic benefit other than personal winnings
  • Except for the advantage of skill or luck, the risks of losing and the chances of winning were the same for all participants

Polk and his group want clarity in the law to allow poker clubs specifically. In the video on the group’s website, Polk explained, “Our goal is to get a bill through during this legislative session that clearly defines these terms and allows us to protect the poker industry as it is today.”

Poker industry under threat from 3 sides

There are at least three ways poker clubs could get shut down:

  • The Texas attorney general could issue a legal opinion against poker rooms
  • A pending Dallas court case could make its way up to the Supreme Court of Texas, which could outlaw poker rooms
  • Passage of anti-poker laws could make poker illegal in Texas

Polk makes it clear that his organization is not looking to expand gaming in Texas. The group simply wants to protect the industry as it is now. Fixing the language of current legislation to clearly allow poker rooms is the easiest way to save these clubs, he said.

Poker rooms beneficial in Texas

Some lump poker in with general gambling, but Polk and others contend that an element of skill is involved. And, more importantly, players are competing against each other, not the “house.”

There are several benefits of poker clubs in Texas:

  • The industry employs thousands, with competitive wages and positive working environments;
  • Poker clubs generate millions of dollars in tax revenue that goes to the state, local areas and education funding;
  • Many players consider poker clubs to be a social setting with a unified set of rules where people can talk and play some cards;
  • A lot of poker clubs serve as tourist attractions.
Photo by Shutterstock
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Aleeyah Jadavji

Aleeyah hails from Toronto, Ontario in Canada and has been working predominantly in the poker industry since 2015. From writing articles, to interviewing big winners and live reporting on poker's biggest stages, she's seen it all. She currently covers legal gaming's legislative pathway for PlayTexas. Aleeyah loves to cook and create content to showcase her passion for food and travel. She also loves sriracha, and doesn't trust anyone that believes it's not a top-tier condiment.

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