Poker Players Gamble On "Private" Parties - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/15/05

Poker Players Gamble On "Private" Parties

A Lubbock man could face fines and jail time for illegally conducting a poker tournament in a rental facility. Homer Lee Morse is charged with possession of gambling devices and keeping a gambling place. This after Morse and five others were arrested during a poker game inside a storage unit.

Three weeks ago, two undercover officers entered the facility at 6901 Upland after receiving a tip and found a poker game in progress. Police made the arrests and confiscated gambling tables and other equipment. If convicted, Morse faces a year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine.

2/14/05
Lubbock Police Warn Local Casino Businesses
This weekend's raid is just the beginning of an illegal gambling crackdown.

It may seem an unlikely place to hold a poker tournament, but police say the storage facility was converted into a full fledged gambling operation open to the public. They warn the real gamble is if you get caught participating.

"The fact that there are arrests being made now indicates that it's getting common enough that law enforcement can go out and find these games if they want to," explains Lubbock Assistant District Attorney John Grace. He says authorities are working hard to educate the public on the do's and don'ts of gambling. "The law makes an exception for private poker games," says Grace.

What constitutes a legal private game can be tricky. For example, who is playing the game? "If the only way they know each other is because they've gotten together to play this game then there's a chance that it's not a private game anymore," he explains. A game with friends is legal but a game amongst strangers is not legal. And as far as winnings go, a split jackpot where the house does not make money is okay. If the house makes money it's illegal and it's not only the house that's breaking the law. "If you're participating you can be arrested by the officer there and be taken down town," says Grace.

The District Attorney warns those participating in illegal games are just as guilty as the one hosting them. "I think the days where people saying that they just didn't know any better, those days are over," he says.

Police say the players face fines of up to $500.

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