Dallas Card Rooms Taking Another Step Toward Becoming Legal In March

Written By Phil West on February 15, 2024
Photo of a dealer and poker players for a story on Dallas card rooms taking another step toward legality

A Dallas City Council member who has been working to make card rooms legal in Dallas informed constituents that the code amendment needed is getting closer to a vote.

Chad West, communicating via his newsletter on Wednesday, revealed that he asked the City Attorney when the proposed code amendment allowing for the legal operation of Texas card rooms would be revealed. Staffers for the City Attorney responded, setting March 5 as the date for the draft to go to the Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee.

City Council will have the final say on Dallas card rooms

According to the Dallas City Hall website:

“The Zoning Ordinance Advisory Committee (ZOAC), a committee of and appointed by the City Plan Commission (CPC), reviews, discusses, and evaluates all information relating to the development of the regulations for the proposed amendment.”

Following its regular meetings (usually fortnightly), the ZOAC will make recommendations to the CPC from proposed amendments. From there, according to the website:

“The proposed amendment is then placed on the CPC agenda for public hearing and, upon approval, it goes to City Council for a public hearing. The City Council makes the final decision on all Development Code amendments.”

West let constituents know that he’ll continue to keep card rooms in the conversation independently of ZOAC’s actions, but it’s certainly possible he’ll soon get to vote on a code amendment that would take Dallas card rooms out of legal limbo.

‘I’m optimistic that we’ll find common ground’

West has previously detailed how the City Attorney’s office view on card rooms necessitates a change.

He told PlayTexas in December:

“The City Attorney’s Office is of the opinion (which it has expressed publicly) that card houses, in the way they have been traditionally operated, are in violation of the Texas Penal Code. So, unless the state changes the penal code, or the city comes up with an alternative land use, or both, nothing will change in Dallas as it relates to card houses. Per the directive of Council, Planning & Urban Design staff are working on a new land use to allow for card rooms. I’m optimistic that we’ll find common ground on a new land use, which allows card houses to operate along with other games of chance such as pool and darts.”

West establishing himself as pro-gambling

West is also angling for the city to join the effort to lobby the Texas Legislature to legalize casino gambling. Currently, there are only three tribal casinos in Texas, which has nearly 30 million people, and Texans who gamble are typically doing it at Oklahoma and Louisiana casinos positioned near the Texas border.

Las Vegas Sands Corp., which already has ties to Dallas through its ownership stakes in the Dallas Mavericks NBA franchise, now has land in both Dallas and Irving where a destination resort could be built — though the 108-acre site in Irving near the former Texas Stadium seemingly gives more options than the 12-acre plot across from the American Airlines Center.

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Phil West

Phil West is a longtime journalist based in Austin, Texas, whose bylines have appeared in The Daily Dot, Nautilus, Pro Soccer USA, Howler, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Chronicle. He has also written two books about soccer.

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