Friday, July 22, 2005

5th Street Ent. is takin' it to the man

Charlotte company sues to affirm legality of no-money pokerAssociated Press
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A company has sued five law enforcement agencies that say poker tournaments run without money wagers are still illegal.
Charlotte-based 5th Street Entertainment LLC, which organizes poker tournaments, said the agencies have cost it business by declaring the games illegal and warning that restaurants or bars that host them could lose their state liquor licenses. The tournaments have been forced to stop awarding prizes.
North Carolina's gambling statute "requires that something of value be bet in order to be considered gambling. This is merely a game people get together and play," company attorney William Bunting said.
The Graduate, a downtown Charlotte restaurant, runs poker games two nights a week, but does not offer prizes, general manager Chris Sheridan said. The games are "a really good promotion for us" and no one has told him they are illegal, he said.
"It's just for fun," he said.
The lawsuit said the Guilford County District Attorney's office broke up a game 5th Street Entertainment organized at a restaurant. Mecklenburg County Alcoholic Beverage Control officials said places hosting the tournaments "would be cited for alcohol violations and could lose their ABC licenses," the lawsuit said.
Both agencies said they acted after receiving an advisory opinion from the state attorney general in February that said such poker games were probably illegal.
That opinion cited a state law that reads any "person or organization that operates any game of chance or any person who plays at or bets on any game of chance at which any money, property or other thing of value is bet, whether the same be in stake or not, shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor."
The company filed its lawsuit last month in Mecklenburg County Superior Court against Attorney General Roy Cooper, Guilford County District Attorney Stuart Albright, state Alcohol Law Enforcement director Mike Robertson, Mecklenburg County ABC law enforcement chief William Cox and the state of North Carolina.
The case asks the judge to declare that poker tournaments organized by the company do not violate the law and to reimburse the company for legal expenses.
The attorney general's office this month asked the judge to dismiss the case. Previous cases have established that poker is illegal in North Carolina, the motion said.

No comments: