Bill aims to free up "Texas Hold 'em" games for Michigan's seniors

Mar 29, 2012

It all started in Romeo.

According to the House Fiscal Agency, members of the Romeo Senior Center held weekly Texas Hold 'em poker games.

Five bucks got you a seat at the table and you played until your chips were gone - top four finishers took home a payout.

But some legal-eagle rained on their parade, and the games stopped in the spring of 2010.

Michigan's law, they were told, only allowed recreational poker games at senior housing facilities - not at senior citizen centers. If they wanted to continue, they needed a license.

Michigan legislators in the House have come to the rescue with HB 5009. The bill would make these games legal at senior citizen centers.

The bill passed today and now it's up to the Senate.

The House Fiscal Agency analysis says during committee deliberation, "there was concern that providing exemptions to gambling prohibitions to specific classes of people is unfair."

If recreational card playing for money is going to be permitted then it should be opened up and applied to all citizens, irrespective to age. A substitute bill to this effect was offered, but was voted down by the committee.

So there may be one more freedom offered to those over sixty.

Now, who is going to keep on eye on the tables? As written now, players cannot bet more than 25 cents per bet, and the winnings from any one hand of cards can not exceed $5.