SPADEPOKER>POKER NEWS> Texas poker club owner pleads guilty, loses hundreds of thousands of…

Texas poker club owner pleads guilty, loses hundreds of thousands of dollars

Back in 2022, police officers stormed the club during the Main Event and handed out fines to the players present. The poker club owner and staff were arrested and charged. Now the case has shifted as the club owner has been forced to plead guilty.

Today's article takes us back to October 7, 2022, when at 7:55 a.m., a scene straight out of a Texas poker club played out like a movie. During the second day of play of the $420 buy-in, $132,840 Main Event, a police raid took place and all 53 players in the game were fined $360.

But that wasn't all. The police then confiscated the entire prizepool, receipts, and gambling equipment. In addition, they charged both the employees and the owner with participating in organized crime and with organizing and promoting gambling.

Laws in Texas

We'll try to give you a brief summary of what the problem was all about. In Texas, gambling is illegal and poker rooms cannot operate according to the traditional model. However, there is a loophole in the law that is often exploited. If you operate as a club, you take a membership fee, but the club doesn't take rake, you can run poker tournaments.

Under the Texas Penal Code, games must be played in a private place, no person can receive economic benefits other than winnings, and the risks of losing must be the same for all participants in the game. However, the problem arose when authorities questioned the fact that the Watauga Social Lounch in Dallas was operating as a club. Thus, during the raid, police asked the players present questions about their understanding of the tournament buy-in structure and how long they had been members of the club.

Moving on to the present

In an update brought to you by the Pokernews website, we have learned of a shift in the case. After 17 months of litigation, the owner of the 9-table poker room, Joe Vongkaysone, has finally entered into a plea agreement. In doing so, he avoided jail time and the charges will be dropped.

However, he did not do so entirely voluntarily. He is still convinced of his innocence, but he has already spent the money on lawyers for himself and his employees. He has spent $195,000 on legal fees, and by his own words, he has no more money for lawyers.

With this plea agreement and guilty plea, he is obligated to pay additional fees. The owner is thus forced to forfeit $170,030 plus interest to the state. Paying nearly $200,000 in attorneys' fees is not the end of it. But at least the owner avoided jail time by taking this step.

In conclusion, the money from the prizepool that the police seized was forfeited to the state. The poker club has never opened since. In April 2023, the charges and fines imposed on the players involved were dropped.

Source - Pokernews, Twitter/X