Further details have emerged from last week’s police raid on the Watauga Social Lounge Poker Club in Fort Worth, Texas, revealing that over $200,000 in cash was seized and 49 players were fined. from $360…
The raid on the arcade saw the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office arcade control unit and Drug Enforcement Agency officers, along with local police, arrest 10 members of management and personal.
Club owner Joe Vongkaysone faces numerous charges including running a gambling venue, promoting gambling and participating in organized criminal activity.
Search and input
A search warrant, issued by Tarrant County Judge George Gallagher the previous Friday, authorized “the search of a gambling establishment”.
It enabled the seizure of “currency, gambling products, financial instruments and/or other valuables…related to obtaining, transferring, secreting or spending large sums of money from participation in specified illegal activities”.
This also included: “Tickets, papers, bank bags, receipts, money, gift certificates, coupons, credit card receipts showing documentation of entries, additional games, dealer/staff appreciation, administrative fees, payments and checks cashed by the player. ”
Tables, chairs, chips, arcade cards and anything related to the possible game were loaded onto a police truck and transported, while players were questioned and fined.
This all happened in the middle of the Fall Classic Poker Tournament, a $420 buy-in, $100,000 GTD event that produced a prize pool of $132,840. This money, and more, was confiscated by the police.
Club closed and legal opinion requested
A Facebook post from the Watauga Social Lounge updated players, poker fans and the public this week, stating:
“The Watauga Social Lounge is temporarily closed.
“The Tarrant County Sheriff’s Gaming Hall Regulations Department has ceased [sic] $200,000 cash (including $132,840 prize pool belonging to tournament players) and all WSL gear.
“For members who received a citation, please send your details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We have a meeting Monday with an attorney for the legal representation of all tournament players who receive a citation from the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department, and to recover the $132,840 that belongs to the tournament players.”
The club, which only opened its doors in January this year with the mayor of Watauga in attendance for the inauguration ceremony, added: “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this has caused our members, our staff, the poker community and the City of Watauga. Thank you for the love and support we have received. We hope to reopen soon.
Texas poker clubs under constant threat
Lone Star State card rooms and their frequent battles with authorities have been dominating the news for months now, with the areas under which they operate coming under attack in some areas.
The Top Shelf poker room in Flint, just outside the town of Tyler, about 100 miles east of Dallas, was also raided in March this year.
Police seized “gaming paraphernalia, US currency, financial records and other documents and electronic devices believed to be associated with the promotion of the game.”
Sheriff Larry Smith claimed some of the investigators were working undercover at the gambling hall and had “probable cause” to believe illegal gambling was taking place on the premises.
An early pair of raids didn’t go so well for Texas authorities in Houston, when multiple arrests at the Post Oak Poker Club and Prime Social Poker Room backfired.
All charges were later dropped when it was discovered that District Attorney Kim Ogg’s own consultant had defrauded the two poker clubs out of $250,000.