OHIO HOME GAME PLAYERS!!!!!!!!!
If you live in Ohio
and play home games please read this. This should be talked about in your home game.
On Wednesday Gov. Kasich introduced his Mid-Biennium Review, legislation that updates the state budget halfway through the two-year period. It also updates state law for nearly every agency, including the Casino Control Commission.
One provision in this bill is stronger language to ensure sweepstakes cafes and "skill games" that perform like slot machines never come back. The bill's language states that you can't operate these machines without a casino license, and to do otherwise is a felony.
Here's the problem: If the proposed statute language is passed, it could also apply to home poker games
, even without a rake.
Here is the current law covering home poker:
Ohio Revised Code 2915.02(A)(2): "No person shall do any of the following...Establish, promote, or operate or knowingly engage in conduct that facilitates any game of chance conducted for profit or any scheme of chance..."
Game of chance is defined as poker, craps, roulette
, or any table game using cards or dice. Scheme of chance includes slots
Notice the law never states that home games are expressly legal. It merely states that you can't make a profit (this includes tips) from running a game.
Here is the proposed language of HB 472:
O.R.C. Sec. 2915.062. (A) Except as otherwise expressly permitted
by law, no person shall conduct, or participate in the conduct of,
a casino game, as defined in section 3772.01 of the Revised Code,
without first obtaining a license under Chapter 3772. of the
(B) Whoever violates this section is guilty of conducting an
illegal casino game, a felony of the fifth degree. If the offender
previously has been convicted of a gambling offense, violation of
this section is a felony of the fourth degree.
(C) Premises used or occupied in violation of this section
constitute a nuisance subject to abatement under Chapter 3767. of
the Revised Code.
If this language stands, hosting or playing a home poker game could become a felony, unless you can acquire a $50,000,000 casino license. Further, under the public nuisance statute, a court could order you to stop hosting poker games under threat of seizing your house.
In this section, casino game is defined as any slot machine or table game using cards or dice.
The key language in this section is "Except as otherwise expressly permitted
by law". The way I read it, home game poker is never expressly permitted in the Ohio Revised Code (nonprofit/charitable gaming is). This reads like the same language that makes home poker expressly illegal in New York, Illinois
, Missouri, and several other states that have casinos
. This is exactly what I feared that state might pass in 2008, but so far hasn't.
I'm not 100% sure of this analysis - more highly trained legal minds will need to take a look at this. But we need to keep an eye on this bill. If the threat is real, we will need to take this to our state representatives, and alert the Poker Players Alliance.
We cannot risk allowing state government to force home game poker out of existence.