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Old 02-28-2013, 08:59 PM   #1
BHDonkey
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Our club shut us down!

I've been playing in a private club (it's a cigar club) for the past dozen years, maybe more. This club has an initiation fee, and monthly dues.

They also have a small private room, which we used to play cards. We would not rake a penny, and all guest were personally invited by existing players. The club did make money when people ordered food and drink, just as if we were eating at the club.

All of a sudden, about two months ago, the club shut down ALL poker games. We weren't the only game...there was probably one a night.

Apparently, a couple other restaurants/clubs in the Beverly Hills area also stopped running games (these were also non-raked games - only benefit the venue was food/beverage).

My question: Is it illegal to play cards in a club/restaurant? I'm talking about a non-raked game, where the club doesn't charge anything beyond regular dues to play. And it's main business isn't hosting card games...no different than the gin games people have played for decades at country clubs.

Thanks.
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:22 PM   #2
eneely
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Re: Our club shut us down!

Laws vary by state. This is California?

For many businesses, the small gains of hosting poker are not worth the risk of getting busted. They worry they could lose their business.
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:28 PM   #3
BHDonkey
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Re: Our club shut us down!

Quote:
Originally Posted by eneely View Post
Laws vary by state. This is California?

For many businesses, the small gains of hosting poker are not worth the risk of getting busted. They worry they could lose their business.
It's not really hosting...we provide our own chips, cards etc...I guess the casual nature of these games is the same as those in the men's grill rooms at country clubs.

It is California.

Thanks.
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:11 PM   #4
gedanken
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Re: Our club shut us down!

Don't trust legal advice from random strangers on the internet, obviously...

I believe (but am not certain) that in california, social gaming is only legal in residences, and is explicitly illegal in business places, even after hours and by invitation only, unraked, whatever.

It is also true that even if the game actually IS legal by whatever technicalities, the owner would not want to have to defend himself in a legal case that might arise. If you watch a lot of Perry Mason or read about Supreme Court rulings, you think the law is a clean, logical, precise machine with sharply defined distinctions, but at the street level, what's legal, illegal, and not worth fighting over blend into each other a lot.

Very similar thing happened to us. Private game in a guys shop, late at night, just using his space. Then one day he got spooked over the legal vulnerability, and that was the end of that. He was going through a divorce, and it wasn't worth arguing about if it came up in court.
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:54 PM   #5
Milo013
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Re: Our club shut us down!

In Ontario your game would be illegal. The reason for that is that the Club is benefiting from your presence, and your presence is due to the game. Therefore the logic goes that the profit they make on the food is a result of your gambling activity and that makes it illegal.

I am not saying it makes sense but, in Ontario, this is the law.
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Old 03-01-2013, 12:38 AM   #6
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Re: Our club shut us down!

found some relevant legal code:

Quote:
Penal Code Sec. 337j
(a) It is unlawful for any person, as owner, lessee, or employee, whether for hire or not, either solely or in conjunction with others, to do any of the following without having first procured and thereafter maintained in effect all federal, state, and local licenses required by law:
(1) To deal, operate, carry on, conduct, maintain, or expose for play in this state any controlled game....

(e) (1) As used in this section, "controlled game " means any poker or Pai Gow game, and any other game played with cards or tiles, or both, and approved by the Division of Gambling Control, and any game of chance, including any gambling device, played for currency, check, credit, or any other thing of value that is not prohibited and made unlawful by statute or local ordinance.
(2) As used in this section, "controlled game" does NOT include any of the following...


(D) Games played with cards in private homes or residences, in which no person makes money for operating the game, except as a player.
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Old 03-01-2013, 08:45 AM   #7
eneely
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Re: Our club shut us down!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BHDonkey View Post
It's not really hosting...we provide our own chips, cards etc...I guess the casual nature of these games is the same as those in the men's grill rooms at country clubs.

It is California.

Thanks.
The legal system might well consider providing space as hosting. Don't get caught up in the meaning of words. I mean, if I get the flu, I am the host.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gedanken View Post

It is also true that even if the game actually IS legal by whatever technicalities, the owner would not want to have to defend himself in a legal case that might arise.
This is my point. Why take the risk? What is the upside? They sell some food and drinks. It could be a legal nightmare for them. If it were my business, I would want to be on rock solid ground.
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Old 03-01-2013, 09:55 AM   #8
The Big K
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Re: Our club shut us down!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BHDonkey View Post
This club has an initiation fee, and monthly dues.

My question: Is it illegal to play cards in a club/restaurant? I'm talking about a non-raked game, where the club doesn't charge anything beyond regular dues to play.
The club maybe not be raking the pot but they are charging a time-rake collected monthly instead of hourly or half-hourly that you find in a casino. Although I don't know the law in your area, I would guess this is probably enough to make the game illegal by strict definition of the law.
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Old 03-01-2013, 10:15 AM   #9
stevesmith1980
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Re: Our club shut us down!

Could you rake a buck out of each pot and donate it to charity? How do those charity rooms work? What are the hassles in getting registered as a charity and could the club set something like that up while still running their legal side of the business??
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Old 03-01-2013, 10:33 AM   #10
psandman
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Re: Our club shut us down!

Putting aside the legality of the games themselves, the issue may have to do with other matters such as the clubs business license or liquor license. In NY for example it is violation of the laws of a liquor license holder to allow gambling on premises .... and this is a seperate matter laws about the game itself
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Old 03-01-2013, 11:07 AM   #11
Doc T River
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Re: Our club shut us down!

Did you ask the club why they did this?

Last edited by Doc T River; 03-01-2013 at 11:07 AM. Reason: Until you do, everything is speculation.
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Old 03-01-2013, 11:08 AM   #12
eneely
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Re: Our club shut us down!

Someone wrote a while back that lawyers cannot post legal advice in forums. It is against their rules and can lead to disbarment. So you are guaranteed to get unreliable advice. Take full advantage of that opportunity.
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Old 03-01-2013, 12:30 PM   #13
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Re: Our club shut us down!

Quote:
Originally Posted by eneely View Post
Someone wrote a while back that lawyers cannot post legal advice in forums. It is against their rules and can lead to disbarment. So you are guaranteed to get unreliable advice. Take full advantage of that opportunity.
linky

Quote:
Just do it – provide legal advice online.

That’s right. If you don’t think that the more generalized, descriptive information about legal rights and remedies are sufficiently meaningful to the public, then offer something more. Answer legal questions online or set up a Q&A chat at your website. Yes, you’ll be giving legal advice. But so what? There’s nothing wrong with giving legal advice, so long as you own it.

What I mean is this. If you want to respond to a specific situation with a specific solution, or discuss eventualities, or explain the consequences of setting up an LLC with a specific rather than a general grant of authority, just understand, and make clear that what you are doing is indeed giving legal advice. And since you are giving legal advice, take care to limit your advice to only those jurisdictions where you’re licensed to practice (to avoid UPL), to clarify that your advice only as good as the facts that have been offered, and to emphasize that advice rendered on a TV show or a legal chat room is nowhere near as good as what you’d receive from hiring a lawyer. If you’re really worried, contact your malpractice carrier and purchase extra coverage.
Seems more likely that lawyers don't give legal advice online because

1) They don't want to do their profession for free
2) They don't want to open themselves up to potential complications from people following that advice

...but there's no reason that they can't. The only problem would be if it wasn't clear the jurisdiction in which the legal advice applied (only where they are licensed to practice).
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Old 03-01-2013, 12:36 PM   #14
eneely
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Re: Our club shut us down!

Are you telling me someone here was wrong about something? Dang.

Ironic that the legal advice in that column is intended for lawyers (in the writer's jurisdiction?!), and funny that some of it is so basic that any first year law student should know it, e.g.:

Quote:
Many lawyers believe that they can disavow certain conduct – whether it’s advice or formation of an attorney-client privilege — simply by slapping on a disclaimer. Truth is, if the conduct is appropriate to begin with, then a disclaimer isn’t required – and if the conduct crosses the line, the disclaimer is not going to help avoid accountability...
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Old 03-01-2013, 03:33 PM   #15
Doc T River
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Re: Our club shut us down!

I have something of a legal background and feel quite free to give one piece of advice about the law.

Spoiler:

Last edited by Doc T River; 03-01-2013 at 03:33 PM. Reason: My earlier advice to talk to the club still stands.
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Old 03-01-2013, 03:46 PM   #16
BHDonkey
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Re: Our club shut us down!

Talking to management wouldn't work - I'm not even a member!

We actually have a few attorneys in our game...however, none of them seem to know the local law here.

One of the players knows a local sheriff - who basically says busting private games is just about the last thing in the world he wants to spend his time on.

In the meantime, we are trying to find options - what made it great was that the room was usually available, free and we usually had 3-5 regulars hanging around at the club so we could play all the time.
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Old 03-02-2013, 09:37 AM   #17
eneely
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Re: Our club shut us down!

Yeah, that definitely sucks. Can't one of the attorneys look into the law, and then reassure the club, offering to defend them pro bono if they are charged?
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Old 03-02-2013, 03:38 PM   #18
psandman
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Re: Our club shut us down!

Quote:
Originally Posted by eneely View Post
Yeah, that definitely sucks. Can't one of the attorneys look into the law, and then reassure the club, offering to defend them pro bono if they are charged?
Let me ask you a question.

Suppose you are running this country club. You become concerned about the legal consequences of these games. You are worried about fines, loss of liquor license, criminal charges, problems with the zoning board .... whatever it may be.

These games aren't your business. Whatever revenue you have made from these games is negligible .......

Are you going to to take these risks because some guy who plays in the game and is an attorney assures you it is no problem and he will defend you for free if you are "charged" (BTW does that include representing us in front of the Zoning Board when we seek a variance to build a new structure and members of the zoning board express concern that we are really operating a casino so they deny our request.... will you represent us when our insurance gets cancelled because we are running an unlicensed gambling house?)

realistically its time to just move on and find a new place to have the games. These people are just protecting their business and from their perspective there is no significant upside to these games.
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Old 03-02-2013, 06:05 PM   #19
eneely
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No I would not. But maybe the club owner would. It doesn't hurt to ask.
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