Poker games or tournaments do not constitute prohibited gambling for liquor licensees.
Several bars in the area are participating in “Pub Poker.” A client recently asked if the vendor’s representation that it was sanctioned by the Liquor Authority was true. The Liquor Authority has provided guidance in its 2011 declarator ruling 2011-2844. The State Liquor Authority finds that a poker game or tournament, if conducted in compliance with the following conditions, shall not constitute prohibited gambling. Licensees are warned, however, that the failure to satisfy any single one of the following conditions any result in a determination that the particular event is gambling, subjecting the licensee to disciplinary action by the Liquor Authority.
1. No fee, of any kind is required to be paid by, or on behalf of, a contestant to participate in the game or tournament;
2. A contestant shall not be required to purchase anything from the licensee (no food or beverage), or any other party, in order to participate in the game or tournament
3. A contestant shall not be required to pay a fee (door fee) to enter the licensed premises in order to participate in the game or tournament;
4. The price of food and beverages at the licensed premises during any game or tournament shall not be higher than the prices regularly charged by the licensee;
5. The licensed premises shall remain open to the public during any game or tournament with food and beverages available for purchase by non-contestants;
6. Each contestant shall be provided with the same number of poker chips and no additional chips may be purchased for use at the game or tournament;
7. No contestant shall have the ability to pay money to the licensee or any other party to gain benefits not provided to all contestants;
8. Any wagers or bets are to be made using chips or other tokens supplied free of charge to contestants; and
9. Items #1 through #8 above shall be prominently displayed on signs publicly posted at the licensed premises and in written materials distributed to contestants.
Be sure you are in compliance with all of these rules to avoid putting your Liquor License in jeopardy.