Free Poker League in Florida Raided By PoliceMonday, October 29th, 2012 by Ryan
Every once in a while, a story comes out in the poker world that leaves you a bit surprised by the headline, and this is one of those stories. The story may not relate to the online poker world or the re-launch of Full Tilt Poker that is set to get underway, or even the World Series of Poker Main Event’s Final Table that starts up again in just a few days, but it’s something very interesting and sort of confusing. According to a few reports out of Florida, there is one of many free poker leagues that is legally being operated out of a local sports bar that was apparently raided this weekend due to some somewhat questionable circumstances it seems. Let’s take a look at the story, as well as the league itself running out of Tampa.
The story came from the Tampa Bay Times originally and it was written about a bar in Tampa Bay called Louie’s Grill and Sports Bar, as they were the target of a state and local law enforcement raid. The reasoning behind this is because of the free poker league that plays there, which is called the Nuts Poker League. The tournament was being played on October 20th, and there were 140 players or so playing in the tournament at the time that the officers came into the facility and things got a bit hectic. There were reports from a few players in the game that the raid was just too over the top, and that there really was not a need for it to be as hectic.
The whole deal was apparently an undercover investigation by the officers, and it was called “Operation Cracked Aces”. A group of officers from the Florida Bureau of Investigation and the Largo police as well all entered into the bar in raid fashion. When they came it was said that they told all of the players in the tournament that they were to keep their hands on the table that they were at. One of the players even went on to state that it was like a “bad movie” and that the officers were “wearing masks and guns out”. The only people who were arrested in the entire situation though were the owner and five employees from the Nutz Poker League, while the owner of Louie’s was charged with keeping a gambling house. The employees and owner of the poker company though was charged with working for a gambling house.
The Nutz Poker League has been around for three years now, and has been a popular option for poker players in Florida since it was created. The idea behind the Nutz Poker League is one that is very similar to the other free poker leagues that run all across the United States, as a bar, grill, or other establishment will pay them to come in and host free poker tournaments. The winners of the free poker tournaments are going to be awarded with different things such as gift cards, pre-paid Visa cards, or even things like trips to Las Vegas and such for the larger events. Apparently though the prizes are the issue with Florida’s officers, which led to the raid and the arrests when all was said and done.
Things get more fun as an Attorney stated that the free leagues do violate any state gaming laws out there, because of the fact that players have the chance to win something of value. The reasoning why the businesses work together is that the poker leagues work with businesses to help them build up their food and drink sales, since the players are going to be in the games for a good while each day or night. What’s interesting about this though is that some people feel that this could be considered a “buy in” of some types, which would make this an issue with the state laws.
The owner of the bar and grille Louis Karamanos said that he felt “violated” by the arrests because he was not a part of the poker league apparently, and as far as the people who were arrested and the owner of the Nutz Poker League goes, they did not respond to any questions. The league did decide to issue a statement though, saying that “these innocent activities should not be the target of tyrannical enforcement and these matters will be defended vigorously, with the goal of swiftly resuming this lawful and beneficial activity.”
With this move happening to the Nutz Poker League, two other leagues have stepped up looking for some clarification. The first is called Treasure Chest Poker, who is looking for information from the officials, while Free Poker Nights of Tampa is attempting to capitalize on the Nutz Poker League’s current issue, and has apparently been leaving fliers at bars and restaurants that Nutz ran at before.