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Poker Problems

I've been running the Friday Night Poker Club games at Conquest for a while now, and this years would make the fifth.

However, it seems there may be problems. There are two Poker games run at Conquest, mine (which is silly) and the Poker Challenge (which is a "real" poker game).

The issue is that the entry fee to the convention and games may be considered a wager. If so, then it falls under the state laws on gambling which means Conquest could be sued over running it. It's unlikely that the law-suit would succeed, but it would still be a hell of a lot of expense that the con can't afford.

The important thing is the term "may be considered a wager". The legislation in question is still fairly new and as a result has a hell of a lot of grey areas.

Liz rang me this morning to chat about what was going on in addition to sending me an email. If we assume they are gambling events, then it would cost $40 per event to get the permits, and all these events would have to be held at a different venue as that venue would be classed as a "Casino" for the purpose of the event. There is no way the convention can afford all the extra expense to do it this way, so that's not an option.

There are three options at the moment as they see.

First option, is to run them as they are, and hope that everything goes ok. Second option is to run them as they are but don't charge for them. Third option is to cancel both games and not run them.

Option 2 is not really a feasible option as those entry fees are what allows the con to keep running every year. Running events and not charging for them are not really an option.

That leaves run and hope or cancel.

As far as I am concerned (and from talking to Liz, as far as she is concerned) the entry fee is not a wager. As I said before, the entry fee is not for the game, it is for venue hire. The only difference between playing those games at Conquest and playing them at home is the venue. Better venue and all the social aspect is what you are paying for, not the game itself.

However, if it ran and someone sued, Conquest might not survive, even if they won the suit (which is most likely).

The plan was to have the Conquest flyer out for Arcanacon, and they really don't want to have listed events on it that may end up having to be canceled, especially if the are determined to be "illegal" events, so they're running around at the moment trying to work out what the hell is going on. Liz is doing a marvellous job at the moment sorting all this out, and I really appreciate here at times like this.

So, as a result this is a warning to everyone reading this: Friday Night Poker Club: Heroes Edition and Poker Challenge 2008 may need to be cancelled, and there isn't anything I, Brendan or the Conquest organisers can do about it.

I hope not, but it might happen.


Jan. 15th, 2008 06:43 am (UTC)
As it happens we have been going over the legislation and this is where the problem has come from.
For the record, Not giving out prises, doesn't make it not gambling, we would have to not charge for the game, thus making them a gift. However giving them out regardless of value, does make it gambling. As far as the law in concerned, a prise is a prise, even if it's not worth much.
Not all games are affected by these new laws, because not all games are played in casinos. Hence the rest of the con is safe.
Basically the government is still sorting it's stuff out, so that they can get the right licensing fees out of the casinos, and at the same time make the casinos get something out of the license.
As a result, we have some new laws which are vague at best, and full of holes, they are still attempting to patch up.
Apart from reading the legislation itself, Liz has also been speaking directly with the department involved.
Our 3 options are from advice directly from them.

I'll put a public posting up about this as soon as we have a ruling.
Pagrin :-)
Jan. 15th, 2008 09:51 am (UTC)

So, if a certificate is deemed an illegal prize under the law, don't give certificates either. (Heck, I've always thought the FNPC prizes were a bit dodgy anyway, because the games are generally heavily biased in the favour of certain characters.)

As for the legislation, it seems to me that the relevant part is Chapter 2, Part 3 of the Gambling Regulation Act 2003. Section 2.3.1 defines those games which are unlawful. Poker is not amongst them by name, leaving only, "any game with cards or other instruments of gaming wherefrom any person derives a percentage or share of the amount or amounts wagered" to include poker as an illegal game. Without a prize of monetary value, poker does not return a percentage or share of the monies to the players. The only persons who could be considered to be collecting monies are the convention organisers, but that brings us back to this applying to many games - including by-the-book Deadlands or any of Fi and Renee's 7th Sea games of the last few years. Also, dice are defined as an instrument of gaming just as playing cards are (2.2.1(2)(b)). There is no mention of casinos in relation to this provision.

Maybe I'm missing something in the relevant legislation, something in the earlier acts that still applies? Something added in the various sets of regulations? Something newer than the 2006 regulations which are available online?

Come to think of it, bridge clubs commonly collect fees and give small monetary prizes. How do they get away with it?

I'm not saying that it isn't something to look at carefully, but... well, let's face it, an employee of the DoJ who assures somebody that a poker game is a-okay and gets them prosecuted as a result is going to get his arse kicked. For them, the percentage lies with telling you "no", and you'll have to talk with someone who actually knows the legislation and pin them down on the facts to get something like that worked out.

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