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Old 12-28-2005, 01:19 PM
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Charity 'poker runs' will have to fold
Attorney general rules motorcycle clubs' events are illegal gambling


By R.G. RATCLIFFE
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau

AUSTIN - Motorcycle clubs that stage "poker runs" for charity will find 2006 less bountiful because Attorney General Greg Abbott ruled Tuesday that such fundraisers amount to illegal gambling under Texas law.

Poker runs typically have a participant paying a registration fee or have the motorcycle rider purchase cards or hands at various rally points. At the end of the run, a cash prize is usually awarded for the best hand, the second-best hand and the worst hand.

Abbott ruled that a poker run with cash prizes would amount to a lottery under state law. He said an organization that kept part of the proceeds for charity would violate the state's prohibition on gambling.

"Even if the contribution goes to a charitable cause and the nonprofit organization will pay prizes from other money, a participant pays money for the chance to win a prize," Abbott said. "Thus we conclude ... the nonprofit organization would become a custodian of a bet in violation (of the state Penal Code)."

The ruling will broadly affect motorcycle organizations across Texas. At least seven have posted poker runs on the Internet through March. Charitable poker runs in the past year have been hosted by motorcycle clubs as well as police and fire departments around the state.

The poker run that prompted Abbott's opinion was organized by the Blue Knights Texas XXXI chapter to raise money for Galveston County Deputy Sheriff Michel Roy, who was injured in April when his squad car collided with a drunken driver's vehicle.

The Blue Knights is a motorcycle club consisting of active and retired police officers.

The club's advertised run said riders could buy hands for $10 each with no limit on the number of hands that could be purchased. At the end of the run, prizes would consist of $700 for the best hand, $200 for the second-best hand and $100 for the worst hand.


Event drew complaint
Galveston County Criminal District Attorney Kurt Sistrunk said he received a citizen complaint on the poker run the day before it occurred. He said he called Blue Knights officers and asked them to call the event off.

"There was no getting around it, in my estimation, they would be violating the law if they pursued that event," Sistrunk said.

Blue Knights chapter President D.J. Alvarez said after that call, the club continued with the poker run, but canceled the cash prizes.

Alvarez said only three or four riders backed out of the Blue Knights run that weekend, but he said Abbott's ruling will have a serious impact on charitable poker runs across Texas.

"You have poker runs every weekend," said Alvarez, a lieutenant in the Galveston Police Department. "They're all for cancer organizations, charitable organizations."

He said they are especially useful in raising money for injured police or firefighters.

"Where in a matter of three hours can you raise $5,000?" Alvarez said.


'We can get around it'

While Abbott's ruling specifically addressed the Blue Knights' poker run, Sistrunk said he reads it to outlaw all such fund-raising activities by nonprofit groups.

"They're going to have to come up with a different way of collecting money," Sistrunk said.

One of the biggest poker runs in the Houston area is sponsored by Competition Motorcycles of Pearland.

Owner Jesse McCulley said his run is meant to promote motorcycling, with all the money being paid out in prizes. He said he understands that makes it legal because no one benefits but the riders who participate.

McCulley said Abbott's ruling will negatively affect charity events if there are no cash prizes for poker runs.

"Some people are going to come out of the kindness of their heart," he said. "But let's face it, if you cut out that little piece of cheese at the end of the trail, participation is going to decline."

Sputnik, chairman of the Texas Motorcycle Rights Association, who does not use a last name, said he does not believe Abbott's ruling marks the end of poker runs.

"We can get around it," Sputnik said. "We can give trophies, and we can give cash money on the side."

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Old 12-28-2005, 01:20 PM
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Default Re: Texas Poker Runs

Read that this morning. Total BS. Looks like there is a loophole if ALL money goes to charity.
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Old 12-29-2005, 12:22 PM
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Default Re: Texas Poker Runs

They don't like money changing hands unless they can get a piece of it. CRAP!
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Old 12-29-2005, 12:31 PM
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Default Re: Texas Poker Runs

Typical texas dipsh!ts. They're so worried about illegal gambling they forgot to watch the millions and millions that flow across the borders to Oklahoma & Louisiana.
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Old 12-29-2005, 12:36 PM
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Default Re: Texas Poker Runs

I started having a Poker Run on Texoma in 1991. It was for the customers and to promote performance boating and boat sales. It was 100% pay-out. No money held out for expenses. example: 100 boats at $500.00 each, the winner got $50k.
This got me around the gambling issue.
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Old 12-29-2005, 12:44 PM
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Default Re: Texas Poker Runs

Quote:
Originally Posted by IM4A2Z
They don't like money changing hands unless they can get a piece of it. CRAP!
Exactly!
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Old 12-29-2005, 12:59 PM
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Default Re: Texas Poker Runs

"The poker run that prompted Abbott's opinion was organized by the Blue Knights Texas XXXI chapter to raise money for Galveston County Deputy Sheriff Michel Roy, who was injured in April when his squad car collided with a drunken driver's vehicle."

Unbelieveable!
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Old 12-29-2005, 03:13 PM
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Default Re: Texas Poker Runs

BumbA$$ Politicians!
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Old 12-29-2005, 04:53 PM
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Default Re: Texas Poker Runs

Quote:
Originally Posted by blume
I started having a Poker Run on Texoma in 1991. It was for the customers and to promote performance boating and boat sales. It was 100% pay-out. No money held out for expenses. example: 100 boats at $500.00 each, the winner got $50k.
This got me around the gambling issue.
Hmmm, let's see...I put up $500 with a chance of winning $50,000.

Nope, that's not gambling
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Old 12-29-2005, 05:57 PM
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Default Re: Texas Poker Runs

Quote:
Originally Posted by IM4A2Z
They don't like money changing hands unless they can get a piece of it. CRAP!
Absolutley,, exactly... RIGHT. A tax on a Poker Run, what will they think of next? One idea is to have the event on a pice of Indian land.
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