There’s a big deal pending with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott right now, and though his opinion is technically not be legally binding, his decision will set a standard that impacts thousands and thousands of players in Texas … and will affect the state’s ability to raise millions of dollars for charity via poker.
The Kerr County Attorney has asked for an opinion on charity poker galas. He wants to know if hosting a pricey dinner that happens to include an optional poker tournament violates Texas gambling laws if the winners are awarded prizes. Likewise he wants to know if leasing a ballroom or banquet hall for such an event constitutes a “private place” defense.
Click here to read the specific and official pending opinion request.
Say what you will about Phil Hellmuth, but he has helped raise more than $1 million for Texas charities, despite gov-connected haters who, for a brief while, tried to squelch his fundraising efforts.
Brian the commenter down below inquired about whether or not you could have charity tourneys with money prizes in Texas, and whether or not you could advertise and promote them. The answer, of course, is … hard to say.
But I definitely have noticed a change back to the older, better ways. Back in the day, tourneys like La Riata used to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars by throwing a terrible-blind-structure event with lots of overpriced rebuys as wealthy Dallasites (and a few Batfaces) competed for a prize that generally consisted of a seat to the WSOP main event. But then the TABC (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission) started threatening event hosts with liquor license gankage if they gave away a prize with any money value to the tournament winner — only a raffle was allowed, they said … and this of course was coming at the same time TABC was arresting drunk people in bars.
Anyhow, all this — which really, was fueled by some shady business practices of non-underground tournament operators, not any clear interpretation of the law — led to the bigger events to remove any competition for a prize … Dale Hansen canceled his huge fundraiser at Lone Star Park, Phil Hellmuth had to cancel an event in Houston that stood to raise at least a quarter-mil for the Susan B. Komen Foundation, and big charity events that carried on, like La Riata, basically had to take away every incentive for rebuys, which crippled fundraising efforts.
But after laying low for a couple years, charity events and the lawyers counseling their organizers seemed to re-reinterpreting Texas charity laws, hosting (and promoting) their poker-for-good-causes nonetheless — with real prizes! The Boys & Girls Clubs, Bea’s Kids … they all went off without a hitch. And earlier this summer, probably the biggest such event took place in San Antonio, with Tony and Eva Parker hosting a star-studded red-carpet charity tourney (emceed by Phil Hellmuth, of course) — resetting a standard that suggests it is indeed OK to give away a $10k+ prize package to raise hundreds of k.