Phoenix (September 9, 2010) — A Gilbert card room located near Cooper and Warner Roads is facing zoning, gaming law and liquor license issues. Pocket Jacks Poker recently ceased hosting live poker games and tournaments so that Town and State officials can make a final determination on the legality of this business. The business will only continue their retail practice in the meantime.
Business owner, Marco Renteria contends that Pocket Jacks Poker engages in social gambling which is deemed legal as he receives no direct profit from the gaming. Town officials disagree with this assessment based on their understanding of gaming laws. Town Attorney Susan Goodwin advised the Town Council that she believes the business was operating in violation of state law, and that the town zoning administration considers the practice a violation of town code. The business has flown under the radar since its May opening and only recently garnered Town and State attention after its owner applied for a liquor license. The liquor license will soon go before the Town Council and then the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control.
The issue of gaming practices is pending direction from the Arizona Department of Gaming as well as the Town. Pocket Jacks does not make a profit from the card games, and dealers rely on gratuities for income. Card-room proponents argue that poker is a game of skill, not chance, and therefore not subject to criminal statutes. State law defines social gambling, which is legal, as “gambling that is not conducted as a business” and under certain conditions, including a stipulation that “no other person receives or becomes entitled to receive any benefit, directly or indirectly, from the gambling activity. Gilbert’s Land Development Code does not permit a “private card room” or “non-casino card room” in a shopping center zoning district, where the business is now located. Town staff met with Pocket Jacks representatives in an attempt to resolve their differences and make some sense from the conflicting statements previously provided by Pocket Jacks.
Read more at AZ Central…
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