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Poker News: February 8, 2007

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Copyright © 2007 Dayton Daily News

HEADLINE: Poker tourney set despite past controversy

A four-day Texas Hold 'Em tournament organized by Reece's Las Vegas Supplies begins today at the Dayton Convention Center eight months after the Ohio Attorney General's office blocked the Riverside firm from conducting a similar charity poker tournament there last March.

Then-Attorney General Jim Petro alleged in court at the time that Reece's owners had skimmed hundreds of thousands of dollars from charities over a two-year period by organizing poker tournaments around the state.

But Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Michael L. Tucker ruled in June that the state had failed to "show, by clear and convincing evidence, that the defendants received compensation for operating gambling events for charities."

Reece's is owned by Reece and Janice Powers of Harrison Twp. Reece Powers was sentenced in 2003 to 33 months in prison for running gambling businesses. The couple declined comment Wednesday through a receptionist taking registration calls for the tournament.

Ohio law says that all proceeds from gambling, except those used to pay for prizes, must go to the sponsoring charity and that only unpaid volunteers can operate the event.

Monica Moloney, acting chief of the charitable law section of Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann's office, said the case against Reece's is still open and that an appeal of Tucker's decision will be filed by her office "very soon."

Moloney said state legislators never intended for the charitable gaming laws to create large for-profit operations. Instead, she said, "the idea was to provide for gaming exceptions for charitable organizations to benefit those organizations. When (legislators) were looking at these things (25 years ago), it was the type of games held at summer church festivals, not these huge poker tournaments."

Tucker said in his June ruling that "Mr. Powers does not dispute that he made 'good money' from these (poker) events, and even argues that he would be out of business if he could not do business with charities."

But whether Powers and his firm received direct compensation for operating those events "is, admittedly, a close call," Tucker wrote.

Reece's Las Vegas charges rental fees to charities for a package of services that includes gaming tables and supplies, registration handling, card dealers and advertising. Tucker ruled that reasonable people could argue that Reece's is being paid for its "expertise" in organizing and operating tournaments but not for actually running them.

The poker tournament this weekend and next at the Dayton Convention Center is being held on behalf of the Central Ohio Amateur Baseball Federation, a nonprofit organization based in Gahanna.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2437 or

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