I've received a question regarding the legality of a poker tournament planned in our county to raise money for a family in need. The details are that there will be a $20 cash buy-in, and that all cash will go to a foundation established for the family. Prizes donated by local businesses will be awarded to the winners. It will be held at the local country club in conjunction with a golf tournament, but it will be open to non-members as well. I don't see any issue with it right off, but wondered if any of you more learned folk have any thoughts on it?
Sounds illegal to me on several fronts:
(1) If anyone off the street, including non-members of the country club, are permitted to play, then my guess is that the tournament is NOT being held in "a private place." That means the defense under PC 47.02(b)(1) does not apply, and that means it's illegal.
(2) If prizes are being awarded to the winners by local merchants (as opposed to simple personal winnings), then the defense under PC 47.02(b)(2) does not apply, and that means it's illegal.
(3) Charity has nothing to do with it. Period.
For more on gambling laws and poker, see these articles from past issues of our newsletter:
A Hold on Texas Hold 'Em (Nov-Dec 2004)
Texas Hold 'em: Three Months Later, It's Still Illegal (March-April 2005)]
Gambling III (Sept-Oct 2006)
The State of Gambling Laws in Texas (July-Aug 2008)
Shannon "The Pit Boss" Edmonds
If people play a game of chance and win a prize decided by the outcome of their game, that is gambling.
Charity is giving money with NO expectation of anything in return. That's why it is called a gift.
[This message was edited by JB on 08-17-09 at .]
except a tax deduction.
if it is truely for charity....why not play for a traveling trophy.....or a title of Lynn county poker champ.....no monetary value that way....no winnings other than braggin rights.......and the charity still gets the entry fees.....just a thought!
I appreciate your thoughts. You have confirmed my fears
It's a freakin' charity event. If you scour the resources and determine that it's probably technically illegal, what are you gonna do? Have organizers arrested and spend some more of Tahoka's millions prosecuting them? Find something to do. Get a hobby.
If some of you people could crawl back into a layman's skin and read yourselves on this blog sometime, you would be as astounded as the rest of us.
This isn't a "blog" it's a discussion board and nobody is making you read it so speak for yourself because some laymen really do enjoy reading these threads. I especially enjoy threads like this one because it really makes you think... if it was a simple case of gambling on football it wouldn't be as intriguing.
For example the answer given so by JB makes me wonder about the golfing portion of this event. If the players pay an entry fee for the golf tournament and the winners are awarded prizes donated by local businesses then how is that different than the poker tourney? Is it different because golf involves skill and poker is a game of chance? Surely there is some amount of luck involved in winning golf and some amount of skill in winning poker. If you don't enjoy mentally poking around the gray areas then maybe this site shouldn't be on your reading list.
as if the gaming statutes werent confusing enough, we now need to look at them from a laymans perspective?.......i realize it may be for charity, but when asked for an opinion as to the legality, it is what it is......illegal!
The legislature could carve out an exception if they so choose....just as they did with raffles, which are also illegal gambling unless they conform to the requirements of the statutes.....
Bottom line....those concerns, tho maybe noble in intent, need to be addressed to your local legislator!
Ironically, Don, poker is one of my hobbies. Therefore, I was excited to see a bill proposing that it be legalized during the last legislative session. I believe the bill recognized poker not as gambling, but as a game of "skill." Unfortuantely, the bill was never passed. I agree that poker is as much a skill game as golf. And sometimes, you "just get lucky" in either game. (Though I seem to have less luck than many others at both): Poker definitely requires more skill than raffles or bingo, which are legal.
The tournament is for a wonderful cause and I would love to play in it myself. (They had some really good prizes donated, FYI.) However, I have taken an oath to uphold the laws of this State whether I agree with them or not, and that requires me to treat ALL offenders equally, regardless of whether it's a scuzzy, underground gambling ring or a charity event sponsored by a bunch of country-club types.
That being said, the organizer was most gracious in allowing me to work with him. The donated prizes will be converted to raffle items and door prizes, and the poker champ gets a trophy and bragging rights. Might even get his/her photo in the Lynn County News
Congratulations Mr. Scott on working things out so that an otherwise illegal charity event will now be legal and able to do what it is intended to do--raise money for charity. I'm sure the organizers are grateful for your input and cooperation. (Personally, I love to play poker. We used to play for hours for bragging rights with chips--no money.)
Sounds like a great solution!!!!!
One of the down sides of being a rural CA is having to rain on the parades of people trying to do good who ask if their plans are legal - - and we have to say no.
The awesome side, is working with the organizers to get the same results with a legal mechanism.
Lisa L. Peterson
Nolan County Attorney
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