Michigan’s charity poker rooms continue to battle against the state’s lawmakers.
Governor Rick Snyder had put the Michigan Gaming Control Board in charge of the state’s charity poker rooms two years back, and in July 2013, the board issued new regulations for charity poker.
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The Lottery Bureau was in charge of the state’s charity gaming industry before the Gaming Control Board took over. Considering certain moves made by the board, the Michigan Charitable Gaming Association feels that charity poker “will be regulated to death,” as Stephanie Van Koevering, its spokesperson, puts it.
According to Gaming Director Richard Kalm, the board is just trying to enforce existing laws. But Koevering calls the enforced law “harsh.” One of the newly issued regulations prevents charity poker rooms from running charity poker games after midnight although a judge had ruled against it. On the contrary, Kalm said: “Not a lot of good comes from a place that has gambling going on after midnight.”
Dave Murray, a spokesperson for Snyder, said that Snyder had to put the state’s Gaming Control Board in charge of the charity poker rooms, which are also referred to as “millionaire parties” in Michigan, because charity poker gaming expanded quickly after Texas Hold’em was included into Michigan’s Bingo Act in 2004.
Koevering is of the opinion that the Michigan Gaming Control Board does not understand charity gaming as well as the Lottery Bureau does. Speaking about the new regulations, she said that, although offenses differ in seriousness, the penalties are the same. She also complained that common casino practices such as players using poker chips worth $1 to tip dealers are also against the law now. Instead, players are required to give tips in the form of cash.
A public hearing is scheduled for next month before the proposed rules can be brought into effect. Kalm says that charity poker in Michigan will change once this happens. He said: “The bars that can currently conduct charity gaming, the poker room casinos, call them what they are, won’t exist in his format, this law cannot afford it.”
Meanwhile, Representative Jeff Farrington has sponsored a bill that will penalize bad actors in the charity gaming industry without forcing all charity poker rooms to shut down. The Charity Gaming Association is in favor of this bill. According to Farrington, charity poker rooms “need to be reined in,” but it must also be understood that charities require the funds that they raise.