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Dallas council members approve $550K in lawyer bills involving poker house legal battles

Legal battles over poker houses in Dallas have not been cheap. Council members on Wednesday voted to pay outside attorneys $550,000.

Poker houses have led to big payouts — at least for private attorneys hired by the City of Dallas.

Council members voted on Wednesday to pay outside attorneys $550,000.

Some attorneys have defended the city's decision to revoke certificates of occupancy for two poker houses. And others represented the city's Board of Adjustment, which later overturned those revocations.

Council Member Chad West says he is worried that the city's opposition to poker houses has resulted in lost business revenue — and a huge legal bill.

“This is Dallas we’re supposed to be a city that is pro-business and business friendly," West said.

Deputy Pro Tem Mayor Omar Narvaez also raised concerns about the legal costs.

"I do adamantly believe we are suing ourselves and wasting taxpayer dollars in order to take somebody's grudge against poker rooms, which we shouldn't be doing as a council," Narvaez said.

The controversial poker houses aren't casinos. Customers can play for money. The house doesn't take a cut. But poker houses can charge a membership fee — and for food and drinks.

Got a tip? Email Nathan Collins at You can follow Nathan on Twitter @nathannotforyou.

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Nathan Collins is the Dallas Accountability Reporter for KERA. Collins joined the station after receiving his master’s degree in Investigative Journalism from Arizona State University. Prior to becoming a journalist, he was a professional musician.