Recently we heard and passed a bill in the Oregon Legislature that would enforce the state and federal laws that say you can’t have “for profit” poker rooms in Oregon. The City of Portland in fact has even stricter rules against these rooms. I voted “NO” on this bill (I urge you to read the bill here: HB 2190) mainly because I saw it as “government intrusion” but I now understand that I was completely wrong! The bill is not about taking away a “freedom” or “right” it’s about enforcing current Oregon and City of Portland law. PCC 14A.70.040 Social Games Authorization Limited says in part:
- The “house” cannot act as a bank. A 2010 Oregon Department of Justice opinion—requested by the Oregon Lottery, a competitor of poker rooms—found that “acting as a bank” meant “having any involvement in the financial aspects of the game, including selling, keeping, and redeeming chips even if the house makes no profit from doing so.”
So, a player can’t even legally exchange cash for chips, a practice in place at every Portland poker club.
- The city of Portland’s social gaming ordinance says, “No player shall bet more than $1 in money or other thing of value in any one game.”
In practice, players can’t bet less than $1 per hand and usually bet substantially more.
- Clubs are also prohibited by city code from making money “from the operation of a social game.”
Portland poker clubs earn money in two ways: by selling food and drinks to players, and by charging an entry fee, typically $10 to $15.
Yet the city says clubs cannot legally charge patrons a door fee if they are coming to the clubs only to play poker—doing so violates state law prohibiting “house income.”
- Poker clubs are not allowed to employ dealers.
Dozens of dealers manage the games at Portland’s card rooms. Operators dodge the rule by declaring the dealers independent contractors.
Portland Meadows has the largest Oregon Lottery terminal section in Oregon. They also have a Poker Room. I am all for folks having a great time playing poker if that’s something they want to do but it MUST be lawful and according to this story in Sunday’s Willamette Week, it is not. READ STORY HERE
In fact, the Oregon Lottery and the Oregon State Police recently conducted a surveillance operation at both Portland Meadows and Racing, Inc., another Poker Room. Below is the results of that surveillance which clearly shows that even though the City of Portland warned these places they were breaking the law, they are still operating against the law and more importantly, the City of Portland is NOT enforcing the law.
Perhaps the City of Portland is too busy with “global climate change” and “antifa” riots and “affordable housing” concerns? What they should be concerned about is what the Oregon Lottery is threatening in the letter I’ve posted below: Oregon, OUR state, is about to lose SEVERAL million dollars in Lottery revenue if they have to enforce state law and take the Lottery terminals OUT of this location. That should concern all of us. Please read all of the documents in the link below, no one else has this at this time, you’re reading it here first!
HB 2190 is being amended in the Senate and will be up for a work session soon, I hope that it is amended precisely to confirm the law and we in the House have a chance to concur and pass this important legislation. I hope further that the City of Portland gets it’s act together and starts enforcing the law! The amendment being considered is not out on OLIS yet, should be soon but in essence will say:
There would be no income from the games to the business.
It would not prohibit a business from providing poker room services, it would promote the establishment as a place where folks can enjoy social gaming, food and beverages and create very clear lines of what that entails (which is already in the Oregon Constitution as well as the cited City of Portland laws)