There has been a lot of discussions on 2+2 Forums regarding the closing of rooms and the moratorium on new charity licenses. The moratorium states that no more supplier or location licenses (those are needed by the room to allow charities to get Millionaire Party Licenses to run the poker events) will be issued until further notices. Additionally, you cannot sell an existing license even if they were to keep the room at the same location. You can read the moratorium announcement here.
This moratorium was put in place when Michigan had 192 active licensed suppliers. Since the moratorium, the number of active rooms is now less than 50. Additionally, Governor Snyder has now placed the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) in charge of Millionaire parts to help ensure the charity room owners are operating legally and not using the charities to help cover up illegal gambling. The MGCB took control in September and since then has been going around to most of the rooms running inspections. There are reports of inspectors showing up multiple times to the same room during a 4 day stretch.
Rooms without a license must close their doors
The Hamlin Pub Poker room opened their doors a couple weeks ago. After a slow start, one of the charities was unable to get their license for reasons unknown. This was causing them to close for 8 days as the charity was trying to get (2) four day licenses.
For charity rooms that only have 1 charity at a time, this shows issues with the process of acquiring a license. I have a charity that tries to run 4 events per year and I have sent in requests for licenses as much as 4 months in advance. When you do this, the state will send you a letter stating the event is too far in the future and it will not be processed until it’s 6 weeks prior to the event date. However, it takes up to 6 weeks to process a license.
So now if you sign up a charity and they are denied a license for any reason, you have to rush to get another charity to get their paperwork in. The fastest I have been able to get a license was 4 weeks. We had to drive the paperwork and check to Lansing and then I had to contact the head of the Charitable Gaming Division 3 days before to get it approved. Then drive back out to Lansing the day before the event to pick up the license. Depending on when the charity is actually denied the license, you can see how this can become impossible to get completed in time.
More on the Hamlin Pub
The Hamlin Pub in Troy is now fighting another battle. From what I understand, there was Charity Poker Room at the location before. The restaurant was sold to another party on a land contract and when the contract went into default, the original owner took control of the property and wanted to re-open the room. They were authorized by the Charitable Gaming Division prior to the MGCB taking over and charities were granted Millionaire Party Licenses to run events there.
The Hamlin Pub spent money (I do not know how much) to get all the equipment to start the room and was open for over a week before the issue above happened. The Hamlin Pub is now being told by the MGCB that they should not have been allowed the license since the ownership of room had change even though he was the original owner and it was only a land contract. I don’t claim to be a lawyer or know how the laws work in this aspect so we will just have to see how the lawyers fight it out. Hopefully the room is able to open again.
So what do we do now as players and charities?
Now the number of rooms continues to dwindle. Snookers’ Poker Room is still unable to run Millionaire Parties while it awaits their investigation to conclude. Cada’s Poker Room and Grille has not reopened yet due to what is reported as ‘waiting for liquor license’ and you cannot open any more rooms since you cannot get a license.
This is making it harder and harder for charities to raise funds for their programs. Many charities in the area, (including my own) are now unable to raise money as they have in the past since there are less rooms to operate in. They are forced to find fund raising events in other ways. Most are far less profitable and require more volunteers to make less money. If you have ever ran a charity, getting volunteers is not easy.
Is it time?
So the question of “Is it time to lift the moratorium?” I think so but that brings up more questions. Seeing how these rooms can become gold mines, who gets a license? What type of license do they open? What if 5 people want to open rooms 1 town?
I’m not sure what the original approval process was for licenses. I would not let owners that have lost their license for 1 reason or another in the past or even major violations. They have already proven they cannot be trusted. I really don’t know what else to comment on this since I haven’t been a part of starting a room.
For the type of license, it makes sense to use ‘Location Licenses’. These are locked to a location and cannot to moved. This would help with the next question of how to handle multiple rooms in the same area. We do not want to over saturate an area because it makes it hard for the rooms to survive and could actually cost the charities money as well.
I’m all-in for giving charities more options. If someone else makes some money while creating a business that helps charities make money, so be it. But don’t be stupid people! The MGCB has proven they will not tolerate any improprieties. Run the game within the rules. They are simple enough to follow and you can make a lot of money without screwing yourself, the charities in the area and the players that enjoy themselves playing the game they love.