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Shutting Down Poker Clubs?

OPB | May 29, 2013 12:35 p.m. | Updated: Sept. 11, 2013 12:53 a.m.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would effectively shut down poker clubs around the state. Players argue that, instead, the existing law should be changed to suit these legitimate, small businesses.

These clubs currently operate under the state’s “social gaming” statute, which differentiates them from casinos. Private gambling clubs can’t have “house odds” or make income from the games themselves. Instead, they charge entrance or membership fees and make money from the food and beverages they serve. Still, Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn) and House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) liken private card rooms to Vegas-style casinos.

Geoff Sugerman, lobbyist for the recently formed Save Oregon Poker PAC (and a player himself) agrees that the social gaming statute doesn’t exactly fit what poker clubs are doing. For example, he says, “They are technically not allowed to hire dealers. So, they find themselves stuck.” Sugerman and the PAC would like to see the law changed to allow private poker clubs to continue operating.

Do you play poker at private clubs? Do you own one these clubs? How would this legislation affect you?

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