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Michigan Charities Still Fighting For Poker

New Lawsuit Pitting Charities Against State To Be Heard This Week


The charity poker situation in the state of Michigan apparently hasn’t improved despite months and months of discussions on how to regulate the industry more. Not that the industry necessarily needs more regulation.

Basically, the state wants to make charities do more of the work running poker games, instead of relying on partnerships (usually 50-50) with other groups, known as suppliers. Charities say that they need to have partnerships in order to make the games work, since charities don’t have the resources or expertise to run poker.

It appears the state and charities wishing to offer poker are at a huge impasse, according to the Lansing State Journal. It seems to be contradictory since the state is asking for charities to take a bigger cut from their poker revenues, but charities claim that such strict rules would literally strangle their revenue stream and wipe out a vital industry in the state.

Supporters of charity poker have alleged that Michigan is just being creative—in a bad way—in its favoritism of the Las Vegas-style casinos in the state. It’s a classic case of some claiming the government is favoring big businesses over small businesses.

Here are recent comments made by Rick Kalm, the executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board, who has been tasked with sorting out the situation:

I’m not here to run anybody out of business. In fact, I’m here trying to expand the opportunities for other businesses, bars, locations, bowling alleys. We think we should be allowing this to happen wherever the charities want it to happen, not where poker rooms have dictated it happen. But, if you want to engage in this kind of gaming and you’re a charity, you’ve got to understand this type of gaming comes with much more risk than the others. I’m just not going to tolerate illegal behavior. And I’m not going to tolerate people using the charities for subversive means to pad their own pockets. If you don’t understand gaming and if you’re afraid of it and you’re going to lean on this operator (supplier) to do everything for you, then you shouldn’t be doing it. Sell a raffle ticket.

A new lawsuit between the charity groups and the state will be heard this week.

Twenty five plaintiffs are suing the Gaming Control Board in order to try to prevent the enforcement of “emergency rules” that were enacted this summer.