A Cincinnati poker club that was told it would be raided by law enforcement if it dared to open its doors is suing municipal officials and the local sheriff’s office, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
The Action Factory Social Club in Sycamore Township, a Cincinnati suburb, wants a judge to declare it legal and to order the township and the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office to let it open for business. It’s also seeking an unspecified amount of damages and attorney fees.
Its owner, Corey Albertson, says his operations are legit because his is a private club that does not plan to take a rake from poker games. Instead, it will charge membership fees and “promote a hobby” by organizing the games, according to the lawsuit, seen by the Enquirer.
“Action Factory will have no financial interest in whether its members play penny-ante poker or for higher stakes,” the suit says.
The Action Factory was given the green light to open in February. That’s when it was granted a zoning certificate by Sycamore Township’s planning and zoning administrator, Skylor Miller. This affirmed its operations were legal, according to the complaint.
But the township had dealt the club a busted flush. In March, Miller wrote to Albertson to tell him the township decided the Action Factory was not legal after all. Opening the club would violate state laws that prohibit residents from facilitating a game of chance for profit or operating a gambling house, Miller said.
Albertson was told the Sheriff’s Office intended to raid the business if it went ahead with its plans. The club wanted to open in its doors in mid-March, but had to hold off.
The lawsuit also names the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office, which it says was consulted by officials before the decision was taken to revoke the Action Factory’s permit.
“I have sustained a total loss of my business, the use and enjoyment of my leased property, and my business has sustained reputational harm that cannot be repaired,” Albertson said in an affidavit that accompanied the lawsuit.
Meanwhile, in Texas…
The case closely mirrors that of the Texas Card House in the city of Dallas. The club has a similar business model to Action Factory, and had received a permit to operate from city officials that was suddenly revoked.
In January, its owner, Ryan Crow, received notice from the city that he was “keeping a gambling place” and would have to close.
This, despite attending numerous meetings with city officials throughout 2020 to ensure his business was compliant with local regulations.
City Councilman Omar Narvaez said he believed Dallas City Attorney Chris Caso had simply “decided to change the idea of what he believes constitutes card rules, according to the law.”
The Texas Card House has been permitted to remain open, for now, following a recent hearing of the city’s Board of Adjustment. Dallas Attorney Gary Powell failed to convince the board that the club was doing anything it had not been authorized to do when it received its permit last year.
The matter will ultimately be decided in court.
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