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Online Poker News Archives - October 3, 2005

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October 3, 2005

Legality Of Poker Tournaments In Question

DENVER -- Hoping to cash in on the rising popularity of poker, more and more pool halls, bars and restaurants around Colorado are holding tournaments.

The contests are free to enter, and participants win prizes from the business rather than cash from other players. Businesses profit from increased food and beverage sales.

"It's actually saving my business," said Karen Loya, owner of Table Steaks East pool hall in Aurora, which earns up to $1,500 from each of its four tournaments per week.

The tournaments are legal as long as they don't charge entry fees, according to the Colorado Division of Gaming.

But according to the Colorado attorney general's office, the tournaments violate the law because businesses profit from food and beverage sales generated by unlicensed games of chance.

Operating an illegal gambling business is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $750 fine. It also could result in revocation of a liquor license.

Attorney General John Suthers' spokeswoman Kristin Hubbell said local law enforcement officials can choose whether to prosecute businesses for holding poker tournaments. So far, no business owners have been taken to court for running a no-entry-fee poker tournament.

Nearly 150 businesses around the state, including 123 in the Denver metro area, run poker tournaments with help from Denver Poker Tour, a company formed to help organize the games, said tour owner Brian Masters. He said on any given night in the metro area, more than 20 tournaments draw about 50 players each.

"I can't imagine what we would be doing if we didn't have poker," said Kyle Villers, owner of the City Limits Lounge in Fort Collins.

City Limits holds five poker tournaments four nights a week, drawing an average of 80 people for each event and boosting food and beverage sales by as much as 400 percent, Villers said.

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