On March 17, Louisiana state police raided Brad’s Bar in Chalmette to shut down a Texas hold ’em tournament. About a dozen police officers came bursting through the front door, guns drawn and spotlights blazing, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Police took the IDs of all 27 participants, checked for warrants, and made mug shots of all before letting them go.
The arrests were only the latest in a crackdown that began in October when the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control announced a plan to end Texas hold ’em tournaments in bars across the state. The state takes the position that if a bar might make indirect profits from a poker game, it is illegal. Others disagree, including some lawmakers and law enforcement officers. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee said he won’t make any arrests under this interpretation of the law. State Sen. Rob Marionneaux Jr., whose committee oversees gambling laws, says, “I don’t believe just because there’s an increased crowd at a place it should be considered illegal gambling. I just can’t make that jump.”