The popularity of poker in the United States has risen considerably in the last 5 years. The infamous Black Friday and the restrictions on online poker has only given the game more publicity and has stirred the interest of Americans who are keen to play online or offline poker on a regular basis.
The state of Michigan is no exception to the poker craze and there has been an exponential increase in the number of people playing poker. This growing interest has been beneficial for churches, charities and civic groups who benefit from donations that arise out of poker related events.
Reports suggest that during the year 2002, the total revenue declared to the state was $7.9 million and that figure climbed exponentially to reach $197 million in the year 2011. The number declared to the state in 2012 was reported to be $184 million, a slight decrease which officials attribute to the loopholes that exist in the $15,000 chip caps. During this period, the profits to various charities went from $3.6 million in the year 2002 to $19.2 million in 2011. The profit to charities in 2012 was declared as $15.8 million.
Charities in Michigan are to a major extent dependant on the poker industry as they receive a large percentage of their revenue from poker related games, charity events and tournament donations. Hence, when Gov. Rick Snyder‘s deputy lawyer Dave Murley told the Capitol committee that
Charitable poker began as a good cause, evolved into a highly lucrative business and has degenerated into a racket
he received a lot of flak from a number of people.
Snyder has been looking to impose stringent regulations on all gambling related activities and many parties are concerned that if his views get implemented, charities, churches and other civic groups will get affected, thereby reducing their impact on developing and helping the people of Michigan.
Back in June 2012, Snyder decided to transfer oversight of all millionaire parties to the Michigan Gaming Control Board and its regulators who are well versed in monitoring highly regulated operations at horse tracks and Detroit’s casinos. Prior to this, millionaire parties were under the care of the Lottery Bureau.
A number of influential people are against this proposal. One of them is Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor who said
We’ve got some violations and we’ve got some bad actors. But the Gaming Control Board has proposed rules that go far beyond attacking the bad actors or the violators and really threaten to shut down a whole lot of operations that are raising $15 to $20 million a year for charity … and employing many, many, many people. If we go too far we’re going to ruin a good thing.