Bars Want Clearer Rules On Poker

In Newfoundland and Labrador, bar owners find the rules surrounding poker play in their establishments too vague and would like to have them clarified.

The scrutiny came in light of an incident that took place the first week of October where the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary raided a Corner Brook Bar where they arrested three people. The three are now facing charges that include operating a common game house.

Vice president of the West Side Charlie's franchise Wade Gravelle said that the Texas Hold'em poker games that take place a his bars do not involve money.

"We do have some stores that do run some fun games of poker out there right now, but certainly not to the level it used to be," Gravelle told CBC News.

"It's a shame because, to be perfectly frank, it's fun. It's a cool thing for people to do and they like doing it, and it's a great way to bring some business into the club."

According to Gravelle the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary headquarters allows poker play in the bars as long as the participants do not need to pay any money to join. But he said that over the years, police officials have been giving mixed signals, including giving the impression that poker play in bars are prohibited in any setting.

Gravelle stressed that the legality of poker play in bars should be made clear.

President of the Beverage Industry Association of Newfoundland and Labrador Marcel Etheridge said that the lack of clarity on the laws surrounding poker may be jeopardizing some bars' business.

"We have asked the RNC and the RCMP to give us a ruling on the game -whether it's legal or not - and we've also been asking the government for over a year now to give us a clear decision," Etheridge said. "To this day, we still haven't got one. This game, as far as I'm concerned, is quite harmless," said Etheridge.