Southern Missouri Cardroom Raided, Closed by Authorities
A relatively new poker room that attempted to operate in Missouri’s capital city of Springfield has been shuttered following the serving of a warrant alleging illegal gaming activities. Three people either involved in club operations or ownership of the room, called The Club House, were also arrested and face arraignment in the coming days.
According to a press statement from the Missouri State Highway Patrol (below), an inter-departmental operation raided the facility after one of the law-enforcement agencies received a single complaint from the usual “concerned citizen”. The club had been in business for only a few weeks, and it was based on the membership-fee / daily-fee model employed by similar clubs in numerous states across the US. Such state-level laws often ban raked poker games, but allow real-money private games, though the club model has led to frequent raids over the past few years, as happened most recently to a couple of similar clubs in Texas.
One local news report from a Springfield outlet traced The Club House to a corporate entity called Seven Deuce Off LLC, that was registered by two of three men arrested in conjunction with the raid, William A. Schroeder and Jeremy M. Smith. (This does not appear to be the Jeremy Smith of Heartland Poker Tour fame, who is a resident of Indiana.) The MSHP press release also mentions raiding the “business owner’s residence” in southwest Springfield, likely belonging to either Schroeder or Smith, where more records of the allegedly illegal operation were seized.
The possible legal loophole allowing these clubs to operate is very much dependent on an interpretive reading of the related laws in the states where these clubs have opened their doors, with such raids and arrests occurring on a semi-regular basis ever since a Little Rock, Arkansas poker club tried to operate a facility in Bible Belt, casino-free Arkansas over a decade ago. That one didn’t last long, and the legal situation has almost always turned out the same: Whether or not the owners and managers are convicted or not, the clubs themselves never reopen, and that appears to be the larger enforcement goal.
Here’s the brief statement from the MSHP:
EMPHASIS: Search Warrants Served In Illegal Gaming Operation
On July 11, 2019, as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged illegal gaming activities, the Missouri State Highway Patrol along with the Springfield Police Department and Greene County Sheriff’s Department, executed a search warrant at a business identified as The Club House, on West Battlefield Street in Springfield, Missouri. Search warrants were executed also at the business owner’s residence in Southwest Springfield and two local banks, for accounts associated with the business. The search warrants were the result of an investigation conducted by the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control and Springfield Police Department. Seized as a result of the warrants were gambling devices, records, and proceeds from illegal gaming operations.
As a result of the investigation, the following people were arrested for promoting gambling in the first degree:
William A. Schroeder, 44, of Springfield, Missouri
Jeremy M. Smith, 40, of Springfield, Missouri
Ryan L. Bailey, 36, of Springfield, Missouri