A Fair Play For All: How One South Texas Social Club Sees A Bigger Picture

Matt Briscoe

Corpus Christi–While many Texans openly support legalized casino gambling in Texas, there is a powerful and steadfast section of the society that feels that it is their obligation to prevent it. While neighboring states such as Louisiana bring in hundreds of millions in tax revenue from gaming, Texas is still struggling to come up with a way to fix our public education system, strengthen our tourism industry and lower property taxes. But with the politics and morals still butting heads over the issue, there are some responsible professionals who have the bigger picture in mind.

“Poker is embedded within Texas,” says Dylan Farley, the General Manager of the soon to be opening Poker Knights Social Club in the booming Southside area of Corpus Christi. Farley and his family are avid poker players and recognize the importance of a community having a clean, well lit, safe and friendly place for people to play cards, enjoy company and build relationships that are vital to a lifetime of success.

“We just hired 11 people and paying them a good wage,” Farley said recently as we toured the new social club owned by his family. “What we are doing here is creating jobs and supporting this community.”

Supporting the community is something that Dylan Farley knows about. The Virginia native came to Texas in 2010 when his family was relocated to Houston for his father’s work with a pharmaceutical chain. After high school, Farley came to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to study History. He loved the city so much that he just couldn’t bring himself to leave the “Sparkling City By The Sea.”

“The biggest flaw here in Corpus Christi is retaining talent,” Farley says while shaking his head. Farley’s feelings about the topic seems to be a common thread here in Corpus Christi. There isn’t much to do in Corpus Christi beyond fishing and work, and that is something that seems to be hurting the seaside community.

Corpus Christi is likely one of the most charming cities in the state—a charming city with very little to do. But Farley wants to change that.

“We will have a safe place to play cards, watch sports and just relax here at Poker Knights,” Farley mentions. “We not only pay taxes and create jobs. We do our part to support this community.”

Farley points out the city’s aging infrastructure, lack of a hotel tax and the barriers to growth that he sees in Corpus Christi. In a community that is small enough to feel like a hometown while being big enough to be brought down old ways, the city is at a crossroads and it’s people like Farley that love it here and want to see the city grow.

But with all of the talk about tax revenue, job creation and social responsibility surrounding Farley’s endeavor one might be inclined to ask how they can do it while running a gambling house? They can do it because they are a community oriented social club.

Farley talks about how Poker Knights simply sells a membership, rents seats at the card table and hosts tournaments for players. The club never touches the money on the table and that’s how it’s legal and responsible.

State Representative Joe Deshotel (D-22) introduced House Bill 494 which he says would be the first step to bringing gambling to Texas. Deshotel’s bill would not legalize gambling in the state but would allow the for the state constitution to be amended to eventually allow for the casino gambling issue to go before voters in Texas.

The bill names five coastal counties including Jefferson, Galveston, Harris, Bexar and Neuces County in which the possibility of gaming could initially reach.

Like Farley, Rep. Deshotel believes that revenues from gaming are one way to help pool more money to help fund additional insurance for those living in hurricane-prone areas and communities like Corpus Christi that could use the money the most.

But while the political debate continues, it is responsible social clubs like Farley’s Poker Knight’s that will do their part to bring legitimate revenue to communities throughout the state that need the money the most—and that seems to be a fair hand for everybody.

Podcast: Dealing A Fair Hand (An Interview With Dylan Farley)

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