Monday, April 24, 2006

"Bar League Poker Dead In Ohio" Says Rat Pack

This just in from The Word From On High news satellite, hovering in geosynchronous orbit exactly 23,000 miles above my head.
As you know, about the time I revived The Word, a Texas Hold'Em game at Conti's Pub & Club here in Columbus was raided and several players fined. As a poker player and participant in the Rat Pack's Winter Poker League (not a member of the Rat Pack, however--should any actual member misconstrue that statement as me claiming to be one of them), I was quite upset by this turn of events and have been keeping myself and my readers updated on the story as it progresses. Here is the latest development, posted on the Columbus Poker Meet-Up Message Board on Friday by the board's moderator, known as "Rat Pack Planner":
"FYI, the TFPL (which runs a large number of bar leagues, has suspended all bar league games in Ohio. Seems that one of their bars was recently raided also. Bottom line- Bar League Poker in Ohio is dead until further notice. All bar league games are subject to police raids at this time. Illegal charity games probably will also soon be targeted, although, with each county prosecutor, enforcement will likely be unbalanced, and dependent upon the influence that some of these groups may have over individual prosecutors."
This upset me because the poker league was was one of the few things other than going to work that got me out of my apartment and interacting with other human beings, not to mention that it was good, cheap practice for my own monthly home game. However, according to a reply posted yesterday on the Meet-Up boards, it was also illegal.
Fortunately, in, quite literally, laying down the law on the leagality of poker in Ohio in clearly understandable layman's language, "Chuck" did allay any doubts I had entertained about the legality of my monthly game. I'd seen a copy of the statute in question on some web site once a few months ago, but that did nothing to clear the matter up for me, as it was written by and for lawyers and was thus in impentrable legalese.
Anyway, here are the pertinent portions of Chuck's rather long post:
"The Ohio Revised Code is very specific about legal and illegal poker in the State of Ohio!!!
"If you play poker in a public place...Bar, Resaurant, Retail Store, etc...It is illegal. Period! You can't do it, even for fun with zero buy-in!!!
"You may only play in a private location...like someone's private home or their garage or their back yard...etc!!! And if you play in a private home...You are ONLY legal if the house does NOT take a rake (have a built in profit taken from each buy-in). If the buy-in is $20 and there are 20 players...The entire $400 better be paid out or you just broke the law!!"
Well, it looks like this issue is settled, at least for now, though I would like to see the law change so that Free Bar Leagues can exist. As long as no money is exchanged, and Brian, the Rat Pack's tournament director was very careful about seeing to that, then it's not really "gambling" and hurts no one.

1 comment:

thebigcurve said...

archaic laws really piss me off!