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Nederland residents, business interests share thoughts on proposed private poker club

NEDERLAND — An overflow crowd of people filled Nederland City Council chambers Monday evening, largely attending to hear about and voice opinions on a proposed private poker club.

No votes were taken and no decisions were made Monday.

Nederland City Manager Chris Duque said the city council would likely make a final decision on the request, mostly likely at its Oct. 28 meeting.

Monday’s gathering served as a public forum, with attendees and poker club representatives sharing their opinions.

The first eight people who spoke Monday were against the business, stating in no uncertain terms that the operation of a private poker club would have a negative impact on the surrounding community.

Club officials want to open a location at 3505 Nederland Avenue, Suite C in Nederland.

Many people who identified themselves as residents of nearby homes said the traffic brought to the location and lack of area parking would make the situation a traffic nightmare.

Others said the club’s proposed operating hours of 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. would create noise issues that would make sleeping difficult. Some suggested that an unwanted clientele would come with the opening of a poker club, leading to drunkenness and the potential for crime.

Lane Helveston, representing Texas Poker Club in Beaumont, said he is looking to expand by opening in Nederland.

Helveston said his Beaumont club has operated for 15 months, is located near a neighborhood and has received zero noise or unruly behavior complaints.

Helveston said the Beaumont location does not serve alcohol but allows patrons to bring their own alcohol. However, he added, he would make alcohol prohibited at the Nederland location if that was the final sticking point.

According to Helveston, company officials do not take a cut of the pot but operate by charging patrons a membership fee and per-day fees based on their frequency.

Helveston said he envisions employing 12 people and becoming a reliable Nederland business taxpayer.

Only two people addressing the Council Monday night spoke in favor of the club, including Helveston.

Zoning ordinances in Nederland do not allow for the operation of a private poker club, meaning Helveston is seeking a specific use permit, which has to be approved by the city council.

Nederland’s Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday at 1903 Atlanta Avenue for a regular meeting. The Commission is expected to vote on a recommendation, either for or against, for the city council concerning the private poker club during Tuesday’s meeting.

Poker club officials previously told The News that the Nederland location would include six poker tables, 10 televisions, a snack machine and arcade games, describing it as a “big man cave.”