Editorial: Leave social poker gaming alone


Some Oregon lawmakers are throwing a legislative tantrum about social poker gaming. Businesses running social poker are making money. House Bill 3518 would make that illegal. The bill would only make such social gaming legal if it were on premises operated and controlled by charitable, religious or fraternal organizations, such as the Elks.

Support for the bill seems to be born, in part, from a bad place: ignorance. The suspicion among some is that these places have the feel of Las Vegas. They don’t. It’s the same thing that can happen in anyone’s living room or out on the back porch.

The businesses in Oregon make money by charging a cover charge of maybe $10 or more. They charge for food and drinks. The businesses don’t get a house cut from the pot. It’s illegal in Oregon for the house to make money directly off the game. That’s what makes it so-called “social gaming.”

What then is so terrible about businesses making money indirectly off social gaming?

People do lose money gambling. And people can become addicted to gambling. Those can both be tragic for the individuals and their families.

If that is the problem, it is not solved by having churches, charities or fraternal organizations operating the locations. And why is the state allowed its state-sanctioned games such as the lottery?

The thrill for some of this bill may be that it “cracks down” on gambling. But the hangover is a costly one. This bill bleeds another set of Oregon businesses.