Indiana Says No Crackdown for Senior Center Card Games

July 22nd, 2015 | by Kaycee James
Indiana senior centers euchre games

Indiana Gaming Commission executive director Sara Tait says the state has no plans to break up low-cost card games at senior centers. (Image: in.gov)

The World Series of Pokerr awards gold bracelets and millions of dollars in prize money, but it doesn’t take those high-stakes prizes to make card games fun.

For groups at senior centers in Indiana, just winning a can of peaches or some toilet paper was enough to add a little spice to their card games, even if nobody was breaking the bank.

Unfortunately, it appears that even those trinkets were enough to raise some concerns, at least in the eyes of some.

A senior center in Muncie, Indiana reported that the Indiana Gaming Commission had contacted them and let them know that it was not permissible to offer prizes in games held by euchre clubs.

Euchre Games Featured Small Prizes

The games, held at the Delaware County Senior Citizens Center in Muncie, involved about 50 euchre players at the facility. The players paid $2.50 to play, with about $1 going to the center itself, and the winners being able to pick from a selection of small prizes.

“Someone called [state gaming officials] and was concerned,” said Judy Elton, director of the senior center. “If you pay to play and win prizes, that’s considered gambling.” 

Euchre is a trick-taking card game, in the same family of games as bridge, spades, and hearts.

Four players play in partnerships of two using a deck of 24 cards.

Tait Says No Enforcement Planned Against Seniors

Obviously, these are not hardened criminals playing for big money, and even in the most outlandish situation, it’s hard to imagine that any punishments would have been steep.

But still, the warnings were enough for senior center officials to put a stop to the buy-ins and the prizes.

But as it turned out, there may not have been any reason to make any changes at all.

According to Sara Tait, the executive director of the Indiana Gaming Commission, officials had only provided information to the senior center, and had no plans to crack down on the card games.

“Card games like these are very similar to developing a Final Four bracket or $5 poker night with friends,” Tait said in a statement. “The Indiana Gaming Commission uses a common sense litmus test and did not, and never had, any plans to take enforcement action against this euchre club.”

Instead, Tait said, the form email sent out to the club was just standard practice after the commission received a complaint about “mishandling of funds,” and contained information about the kinds of gambling licenses available in the state.

“We distribute regularly such email information following the receipt of a complaint,” Tait said in her statement. “As is consistent with our practice in such matters, once the Indiana Gaming Commission sent the email, there was no intention to address this further and no additional communication, as expending resources on such minor issues is not consistent with Commission priorities.”

Still, some people are saying that laws need to be updated so that situations such as this one don’t occur again.

“Something has to be done so a large part of the population can legally play cards,” said Ruth Bosch, director of the Jennings County Senior Center. “The law has to be amended. If you are a fraternal or veterans group you can play, but at a senior center, where they contribute 50 cents toward a prize of a can of peaches, they can’t do it.”

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