Update - Effort to legalize home games in DE
Today I mailed the following letter to my state representative:
Jan. 20, 2009
Representative Robert Gilligan
Speaker of the House
PO Box 1401
Dover, DE 19903
RE: Suggested change to Delaware law
Dear Mr. Speaker:
I was pleased to read about your efforts, chronicled in The News Journal earlier this month, to modernize Delaware's gaming laws by legalizing sports betting. I'm writing to you today to respectfully suggest and recommend that you consider including legislation to formally legalize home poker and other card games as a social activity in Delaware.
Since the days when George Washington and the Continental Army camped around Newport, Delawareans have enjoyed playing card games with one another as a social activity. But today, if friends and family gather in a private home to play cards for the smallest amount of money, they would be violating Delaware law. (1)
Today, 22 states expressly allow their citizens to wager on social card games in their homes. South Carolina will become the twenty-third state to do so if pending legislation passes this year (2). Even our new president is an avid poker player who built important relationships through the social activity of a weekly poker game.
As the popularity of poker has increased over the past decade, many Delawareans have become fans of the game. Wagering is, of course, an integral part of the game's tactics, as the technique of "bluffing" is meaningless without something of value, however small, at stake.
But to play legally in Delaware, those who enjoy the game must turn to a few licensed poker rooms, paying a recurring seat fee to play against strangers for larger amounts of money than some might otherwise risk. (3) These factors are specifically prohibited in the definitions of "social games" allowed in other states.
In "social game" states, regular players who were asked why they played were most likely to cite "spending time with family and friends" as their reason, rather than the opportunity to win money. In my own informal queries online, I found that most players said they played monthly, risking a total of between $20 and $50 per evening.
I've included my own rudimentary draft of a proposed addition to existing law which would allow for social card games as an example and a starting point for discussion. Much of the definition of the term "social game" is borrowed from other states, and the $25-per-hand limit is included to protect the interests of licensed poker rooms, where players may wager more.
I would be happy to meet with you and discuss this suggestion further. It is offered as a sincere suggestion to update our state's law.
PROPOSED ADDITION TO TITLE 11, Section 1403:
Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit a social game played with playing cards in a private home. A social game is one where all of the following conditions are met:
a) Players participating in a social game must be at least 18 years old, be employed in a business or profession other than gambling, and share a bona fide social relationship; and
b) No game may favor any player or a "house," and no one may charge any fee or receive any money or thing of value except his winnings as a player; and
c) No player may wager more than $25 per complete hand of cards.
1. Delaware Title 11, Section 1403 to 1407.
2. South Carolina House Bill 3201, introduced January, 2007.
3. Betting in a "$2-$4 limit" game of Texas Hold Em at a licensed poker room is traditionally capped at a maximum of $48 per hand, with a "seat fee" of $4 per half hour.
Last edited by dennis63; 01-21-2009 at 01:44 AM.
Reason: Adding footnotes