Oregon social poker bill dies in committee

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By Philip Dobrikin
In Oregon, House Bill 3518, which would have limited social poker to be run by religious, charitable and fraternal organizations, failed to make it out of committee.

Poker clubs have the corner on social poker. They don’t take rake or tournament fees, but have cover charges to enter the premises. They also make money from food and beverage sales.

Proponents of the bill argued these poker clubs are acting outside the law by profiting from the gambling by having cover charges and allowing larger bets than the $1 per person per bet at the table.

Another complaint is the dealers are open to abuse because they are volunteers and not employees. The clubs argue the laws don’t allow the dealers to be paid a salary as employees and are working within the system. Detractors of the bill said closing these clubs would push poker underground, where there would be no regulation or oversight and any problems would only be amplified.

They argued the only incidents related to gambling happened at a state-sanctioned lottery store and fraternal club that would still be able to operate. The clubs have security, which supporters say make for a safer alternative.