- Associated Press - Friday, September 5, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A federal on Friday ordered a halt to Texas Hold ‘Em tournaments at the Coeur d’Alene Casino, saying the games are not among those allowed by state law.

In making the ruling, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill granted an injunction sought by the state to shut down poker rooms that have operated since May at the casino.

“It bears repeating that Idaho’s constitution plainly prohibits all forms of gambling other than the three listed exceptions,” Winmill wrote in his 24-page ruling.

The state allows slot machines, bingo and off-track betting.

Officials with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe said they will appeal the ruling, arguing that Texas Hold ‘Em requires players to compete against each other, with no house bank involved.

“Poker is so widely played across the state by so many different people and organizations that it sounds ridiculous to say that everyone playing poker in the state of Idaho is breaking the law, but that is what this decision says,” Coeur d’Alene Tribal Chairman Chief Allan said in a statement.

He said there was little enforcement of the no-poker rule until the tribe began to offer the game on its reservation.

The tribe’s casino has grown considerably since it opened nearly two decades ago, making it a financial success for the tribe.

In June, Winmill called for the state and tribe to go to arbitration over the issue. However, he wrote in his ruling Friday that the tribe had changed its mind and preferred to litigate.

“The tribe concedes, as it must, that chance plays a role in Texas Hold ‘Em,” Winmill wrote. “After all, when a poker player is dealt a hand, chance determines how good or bad that hand will be.”

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter lauded the ruling, saying state lawmakers have made it clear that poker is not accepted in Idaho.

“And no matter how much the tribe insists otherwise, Texas Hold ‘Em is poker,” Otter said in a statement.

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