MODEL STATE LAWS REGULATING CHARITY POKER

An effective state law regarding charity poker needs to recognize some basic ideas:

(1) Casino gambling games between the players where the house has an interest in the outcome of the game (blackjack, roulette, et cetera) are unsuitable for charity poker. Games where the players gamble with each other (poker, backgammon, et cetera) and pay a fee for having the game conducted are much more appropriate for charity poker.

Reasoning: The house has a much stronger incentive to keep a game honest when it has no monetary interest in the outcome of the game. A charity cannot lose money in a game where it provides a place to play and makes money from charging the players a fee for that service. The rules of a casino gambling game need to be much more favorable to the house in a game where the house cannot afford to lose money (as in charity gaming), so the player is unable to get a fair chance to win in such a game.

(2) The charity itself is not equipped to do an effective job of running poker tournaments or cash games. It is much better for charity income to have a central location where charities can arrange to have their games run by competent people who handle distributing tournament chips, dealers who deal the cards, floor people who can make rulings, and so forth. The charity is more than willing to split the profits with a team of professionals who have a fixed location that the poker players of that area know where to go to play cardgames.

The central location for poker activity is a joy to the poker players of the area. There is a wider choice of games, the security of a protected environment, and competent professionals running the games, among many other benefits.

(3) Charity poker is more acceptable to the public if the amount of money that is lost by a gambler is not so large as to adversely affect family income in a significant way. The best way to control the amount of money lost is to regulate the stakes of the game. For tournament poker, setting a maximum limit for the buy-in (entry fee) for the event an easy way to limit the amount of money lost by an individual. Perhaps $100 is a reasonable amount for a cap. Some tournaments, especially those with a small buy-in amount, allow reentries, rebuys, and add-ons to increase the size of the prize pool and to help prevent a player from having to leave quickly without having really enjoyed playing in the contest. Methods of buying additional chips also need to have their limits if we wish to restrict the amount lost by a single individual. This can be done by using a sliding scale of buying more chips that depends on the size of the buy-in. Cash games can be controlled by limiting the size of the blinds, disallowing straddle bets, placing a maximum on the buy-in, and disallowing the purchase of new chips that would put the total amount of chips in front of a person beyond what was the maximum buy-in to the game.

Controlling the swing size by limiting the amount of chips in play per daily session for the whole establishment is irritating to the players (who would want to have all the games throughout the establishment stopped in the middle of play?) and also creates an incentive for the house and players to evade the law by methods such as having chips bought from another player instead of redeeming them at the establishment’s cage. Having restrictions built into the game’s structure is a much easier swing size limiting method for state inspectors to regulate and control.

It is normal for those who are able to have legal gambling licenses to view other forms of legal gambling besides their own as undesirable because it adversely affects their own income. They view the gambler’s money as a limited amount, so do not want it spent elsewhere. The state needs to use methods of controlling the size of charity poker that are in harmony with other legal gambling entities. The above suggestions may well prove to be acceptable to and compatible with all the gambling interests, both the players and those who they interact with when they gamble.