Monday, July 23, 2007

Is a crackdown coming?

Is a crackdown coming to the poker tournaments in Milwaukee?

There is an interesting article in the Milwaukee paper today discussing the popularity of what I call "prize poker" in the state of Wisconsin. In "prize poker", you do not win money but prizes (t-shirts, caps, etc.) and they keep rankings on how you finish usually for a big prize tournament at the end of a season. There are no entry fees. Usually a bar will pay someone to hold the event in return for bringing patrons into their establishment.

I had played in such a series a couple years back, Badger Poker. It was good to get your feet wet and play without having to pay. I tired of it for various reasons and quit going. One thing I wasn't surprised to see was a quote for the owner. I am sure he means well, but he probably doesn't realize he just put a bulls eye on his back. This comment doesn't help him:

....gambling restrictions here vague and confusing, saying that he was unaware
until recently that there might be a prohibition on any sort of prize.
"Until there's a law saying 'You can't do this' or 'You can't do that,' we're going to
still do what we do," he said.

I hope he talked to his attorney before talking to the reporter. Basically to tell the DA in the counties he operates to piss off is not a good business plan. His interpretation of the law won't be jacksquat to the attorney prosecuting him. Telling a judge that the law does not specifically say we cannot play poker is plain stupid. Even stupider might be to hold the actual tournament in Wisconsin but technically award the prize in Vegas and believe that means he is not breaking the law.

It also made me wonder how long the tournaments at the bar I frequent will last or even the smokers at local churches. They have entry fees and pay out cash. To claim it is a fundraiser will not hold water. The article mentioned a fund raiser for a sheriff's department that was shut down. Their prize was a box of cigars. Even Johnny Law is being held to enforcement.

But there is hope. A sheriff in Dodge County has taken a sensible approach. As long as the stakes don't get unreasonable (reasonable is $20), he will let them be. Good to see logic coming into play on what is basically a victimless crime among responsible adults.

1 comment:

Bloody P said...

I read that article as well.

There's a game at a place in Iron Ridge (Dodge County) that I play quite often, and they got clearance from Nehls to hold the game.

$20 buy-in, natch.