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Legal meetup site membership dues?

Discussion in 'Home Poker Rules' started by dp68094, Mar 21, 2015.

  1. dp68094

    dp68094 Active Member

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    I have been running a 100% legit home game in Newport News, VA Since last October. I started it using Meetup.com and have over 70 members now. Obviously never take a rake, or charge for anything. The club is great and I now have a ton of local players who are regulars.

    The question is, meetup charges me $15/mo to run the website. I ponyed up the first 6 months just to see how it would be. Now that I wish to continue, I am willing to pay out of my own pocket, but wouldn't mind if we all could chip in to simply cover the expense of running the site.

    The meetup site will allow me to charge membership, or alternately, charge for each event that I host.

    QUESTION: Is it going to be legal if I can show that any funds collected on the site have only ever been used to pay the subscription and I can demonstrate that, even though I am the account holder, that I never withdrew any funds?

    Your thoughts comments would be appreciated
     
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  2. TexRex

    TexRex Well-Known Member

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    You could create a separate club membership fee -- say $5 or $10 a year to be able to play. You could give members a tangible benefit like 2x the chips non-members get. Caution: Some will hate the membership fee, regardless of how small, how reasonable, and what it covers.
     
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  3. Bruce M

    Bruce M Well-Known Member

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    The only way you can do it legally is to ask for donations from your regulars to defray cost. The donation cannot be required to play. You should do it as a compleatly seperate transaction from buying into game. If you do it this way there is no gray area and you are legit.

    You could try and set up a membership but you really need tp be offering something outside of poker for the membership. This gets risky. I would just tell your regulars this is my costs and would like a 5 dollar donation from each of you to defray cost. Like I said it can't be mandatory. Of course people that don't donate you could accidently delete off invite list for next time ; )

    Just saw Ted messages above and that is completely ileagal. In a legal game all money has to be paid out and no player can have an advantage
     
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  4. TexRex

    TexRex Well-Known Member

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    Following up on Bruce's idea -- You could also say, "It costs $x to do this game with (whatever medium and whatever else you want to cover, like cards). I am putting a hat (box, bucket, whatever) here so folks can donate. It costs an average of $x/player. I know some can't donate and hope others will be generous to help defray the cost. If there is money left over, I'll put it into the prize pool of our special event."

    I don't know that I'd delete people simply because they didn't donate. Some might be using all of their entertainment money to come play. I know some are just cheap, but I wouldn't make assumptions.

    I think in most groups that approach would more than cover the cost. I've found most players are willing to help, and some are willing to help a lot. I take the SW3 approach -- some will, some won't, so what?
     
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  5. beerlightbroker

    beerlightbroker Well-Known Member

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    I would charge a dollar a person per game, via a donation. Problem solved, easily figured, and spend any extra's on party snacks. Document everything if it makes you feel safe.
     
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  6. Bruce M

    Bruce M Well-Known Member

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    tex you summarized my idea well. And I was mostly joking about deleting people for not contrib. For beerlighter you can do that as long as the donation is not mandatory to play. if you make it mandatory you have crossed the line no matter how much you document that it is to defray actual expenses.

    If I ever win the lottery I would take this to court and argue poker is a skill game just like golf and you can have prize pools with expenses taken out.
     
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  7. CaptLego

    CaptLego Super Moderator
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    I don't have a clue about the fine points of legality, so you should probably ignore this... But I was wondering:

    You can have a meetup club that has membership dues. Why not have a club for, say , "chip fondlers". Then after the regular club meeting, some members could choose to hang around for a little poker?
     
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  8. Bruce M

    Bruce M Well-Known Member

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    capt that works but the club has to be real an offer benefit outside of the poker. if it were legal your way you would have private poker clubs everywhere. The people have to have relationship outside of poker. and the membership dues have to support more than just running the poker. Its very gray and as soon as you start getting sig traffic you are going to get unwanted attention weather it is actually legal or not.

    I run around a 20 person tournament every week with no rake. I just ask for donations when I need to get something. it works that way.
     
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  9. Rush4Rod

    Rush4Rod Well-Known Member

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    When a member hosts a tournament in the Top 200 meet up group I belong to, it's usually $35+$5, $45+$5, or $53+$7 to enter. The +$X is technically a donation and goes to the house to cover, supplies, snacks and wear and tear on their homes. Things inevtable get broken. The donation is supposed to be voluntary, but the undersanding is that it isn't. Everybody gets it and there isn't a problem. For cash games the host asks for a "voluntary" donation.
     
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  10. pltrgyst

    pltrgyst Well-Known Member

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    Bruce has it 100% right. You do not want to pull any of this "+10" stuff or have "understandings" about fees anywhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia unless you want the risk of having your game raided or shut down.
     
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  11. Rush4Rod

    Rush4Rod Well-Known Member

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    My group isn't in VA but that probably doesn't matter. It's the same everywhere. Pass around the hat is the way to go.
     
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  12. QuiQuog

    QuiQuog Well-Known Member

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    Yep, just ask the guys and don't even worry about it. Before a game say "Hey guys, a quick request. It cost $15 to run the website to organize this poker game. If you want to help out, I would appreciate it. Just drop a quarter, or a dollar or whatever in the box and I'll let you know when the well runs dry again."

    With 70 members the per player cost is insignificant, but I think they'll appreciate that it cost something and want to help out.
     
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  13. dp68094

    dp68094 Active Member

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    Thanks for the comments guys. I think that the donation route is the way to go. I took a close look at the state reg's. In all fairness, it is pretty clear that even in a home game, if I am the "organizer" of a regular game that the law might come down on me. That being said, I would think that being able to demonstrate that I dont make a cent off the game, and donations go solely to pay for the website, they would just be wasting taxpayer monies to try and bust my game. I guess I'll take my chances!
     
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  14. beerlightbroker

    beerlightbroker Well-Known Member

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    I think everyone here would love playing in my game, under these circumstances. I would tell you tell put a dollar in the hat. If you don't have a dollar, I have change for everything up to 1k. If you have the buy in only, I'll loan you the dollar. If you are curious about the dollar or try asking questions, I'll tell you to put it in. If you act like the dollar means something, I'll tell you that you shouldn't be playing in this game or any game for that matter.

    Well said.
     
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  15. beerlightbroker

    beerlightbroker Well-Known Member

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    Kinda like this.


    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
     
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  16. beerlightbroker

    beerlightbroker Well-Known Member

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    Or maybe just point to the custom bubbler lights?

     
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  17. pltrgyst

    pltrgyst Well-Known Member

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    Of course, there's a BGinGA-required snark: If your income and your win rate don't easily cover a $15/month cost, you probably shouldn't be hosting a game anyway.
    :cool:
     
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  18. BGinGA

    BGinGA Banned

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    Hey, what did I do .....

    :wink:

    All I know is that
    :TTIWWP:
     
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  19. TenPercenter

    TenPercenter Administrator
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    I have struggled with this concept myself for years. Of course all state laws vary but I'm sure their similar to Texas, which says "no person received any economic benefit other than personal winnings." Our AG actually once game an example of something that would make a private no-rake game illegal: If a guy yelled out "who wants to chip in for pizza?" ... the game is illegal because that person is receiving economic benefit. [reduced cost on pizza he was going to buy anyway]

    In fact, a donation jar makes the game illegal in Texas.

    Of course no law enforcement agency is going to bust the game because of a donation jar. Or for a guy yelling for pizza donations. Not even for a "35+5" tourney... but to the letter of the law this is how clear it is.
    --------------------
    I do have a donation jar. That's it. I never collect extra for buyins, no dues, no rake, not even dealer tips are allowed (we always have dedicated dealers). DOnations are as close as I want to get to scrutiny. And my games offer a WHOLE lot more than any home game I've been to. Hot foods, snacks galore, fountain sodas and crushed ice, great music, dedicated restroom, guust wifi, and of course great tables, chairs, cards and CHIPS. :)

    My donations usually cover the hot food costs. Sometimes less, sometimes more, it all comes out in the end. Sure I lose money overall with my fancy soft drink machine, syrups, nice ice machine, NICE CHIPS, internet data (I dont have unlimited), electricity, meetup dues, etc. But I choose to provide all those things, the players would come regardless. These guys are just as happy playing in someones dirty garage with dice chips, a popup table, and metal folding chairs. So I don't get bent that I don't get all my toys paid for by the players.
     
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  20. dp68094

    dp68094 Active Member

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    Thanks for all the inputs guys... I think donation is the way to go.
     
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