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home : local news : local news June 24, 2016

10/10/2013 2:05:00 PM
Bikers unhappy with law on poker runs
Daily News

A Senate amendment to House Bill 2520 has made poker runs, a popular fundraiser, part of the state's Charitable Games Act. But rules and fees associated with the move may do more harm than good.

Rep. Kay Hatcher, R-Yorkville, who sponsored the bill in the House, said the idea of adding poker runs to the law was brought to her by A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education, which lobbies on behalf of motorcycle interests.

"This was an effort on their part to quantify what they are doing," Hatcher said. "I'm a big ABATE person."

Hatcher, who rides a motorcycle herself, said poker runs have been a staple for antique car groups, sports car organizations and motorcyclists for decades.

"It is the lifeblood for fundraising for folks who are literally on the move," she said.

In poker runs, participants travel to a series of five locations, often bars, where they draw a card from a deck. This becomes the basis for the participant's poker hand. At the end of the run, people with the best poker hands can win prizes. In some cases, marbles of different colors are drawn and at the end a value is assigned to each color. People with the most valuable marbles win.

Bob Myers, ABATE's lobbyist, said the idea was in response to what the organization saw happening.

"Down here, one of the liquor agents was going around to all the establishments and tearing down our fliers for our events," Myers said. "Ninety-five percent of our events are for charity purposes. They threatened the bars that this is gaming, they can't have this."

Myers said lawyers for the legislature recommended placing poker runs in the Charitable Games Act.

"We thought we had this settled," Myers said. "Apparently the Department of Revenue has other ideas. It's about money and them taking it away from people."

Myers said he's unhappy that the state is requiring each bar participating in a poker run to obtain a provider license. That can run from $50 to $150 for three years, Hofer said.

Also, the charity needs a license to conduct the event. It is $200 now and will go up to $400 for two years on Jan. 1. Proceeds of the event are subject to the state's 3 percent tax on charitable games. Money from the tax is used mainly to enforce the charitable gaming law, Hofer said.

"The law establishes the definitions of what this kind of charitable event is," Hofer said. "The law requires there are fees imposed on the operators and providers of such games."

Rep. Brad Halbrook questions how the high fees sneaked under the radar.

Halbrook said his understanding of the bill was to clear up the "gray" areas, and that ABATE was behind the proposed legislation. Halbrook said he would not have voted for the bill if he had known about the excessive fees.

"I usually don't vote for fees," he said.

Myers said he thinks the end result will be far fewer organizations willing to raise money through poker runs. He said he's working with lawmakers to take poker runs out of the jurisdiction of the Liquor Commission, Gaming Board and Revenue Department.

"Why should it be regulated?" he said. "They make it almost impossible for an American citizen to help somebody."

Rep. Rich Brauer, R-Petersburg, is working on legislation he hopes is ready for the veto session that will change the poker run law. He is considering making poker runs raffles that will bring them under the jurisdiction of county governments.

"The problem is it was recommended they put this under the Charitable Games Act and when they did, Revenue wanted to charge everybody for the license," Brauer said. "It will put an end to the charitable giving that has been so popular in the past."

Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013
Article comment by: jack richardson sr

I think it sucks that the govt wants to take money away from poker runs to fatten their pockets and take away from the proceeds meant for the needy they were intended for!

Posted: Saturday, December 28, 2013
Article comment by: RJ Jorgensen

I feel the fees are unnecessary , it going to do more harm than good to organizations that are willing to help people in need ,Due to organizations aren't keeping the money raised but donate it to the the needy

Posted: Saturday, December 28, 2013
Article comment by: Steve Bachner

Leave it to the Bureaucrats to find a way to screw up a good thing that people have been doing for years. We as riders in the biking community raised more money in all the private events we have done for many years than most fund raising organizations do on a regular basis. Poker Runs were a way to marry something enjoyable to do with a way to raise money for a needy cause. This now shows me that no matter what a person does in this country to try to do something good for a fellow man, somebody's greed has to come in and get a piece of others efforts. Greed and corruption are killing this country and this is just another example of it. Politicians, learn to live on what you have and get your hands out of our pockets. We will find another way to get around this law. I say Gimmick Rallies may find there way back into the limelight now! Tax that you jerks!!! No good deed goes unpunished time and again!

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