Playing Poker For Money At Home Illegal In MD, Ban Could Soon Be - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Playing Poker For Money At Home Illegal In MD, Ban Could Soon Be Lifted

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MARYLAND - It's a Friday night and you get the boys together to sit back, relax, play some poker and maybe score some cash. But who knew? That's actually illegal in the state of Maryland. But a bill that's been cross-filed in the House and Senate could change that.

"Doesn't make any sense," Douglas White of Parsonsburg, Md. said.

"Why did they come up with this stuff?" Anthony Acottingham of Salisbury, Md. said.

"I'm an elected official. I usually try to keep up with the laws and I had never heard of that!" Ann Suthowski of the Wicomico County Republican Central Committee said.

Current law states that a person may not bet, wager or gamble– meaning placing bets on a horse race, fantasy football, the Super Bowl and the upcoming March Madness games are all illegal.  

"You put any money on any game of chance if you will, it automatically is deemed a casino under Maryland law and is thereby illegal," Del. Kirill Reznik (D-Montgomery) said.

Though it's not heavily enforced, violators could be hit with a misdemeanor, a fine of up $1,000 and face jail time -- which is why legislators have filed a bill that would make it legal to enjoy that boys night out.

But there are some stipulations.

"It is pretty limited in its scope. So it specifically keeps the prohibition of a host benefiting indirectly from hosting. So they're not allowed to charge for entrance, they're not allowed to take what's called a rake or a fee per hand. All that stuff will still constitute as an illegal casino. So there's still prohibitions on it that make sure that what people are doing is really just getting together for an evening of fun, and not trying to run some sort of illegal operation," Reznik said.

It's just another obscure law on the books they hope to do away with.

Reznik's bill is pending action in a House subcommittee. Sen. Nancy J. King (D-Montgomery) is sponsoring the Senate bill, which is headed for a final vote in the Senate later this week.

If you're wondering how or why this came up in the first place, apparently a group of state's attorneys and police officers who like to play were concerned. They brought it before their legislators who say the bill will likely pass as it has no opposition from state police or licensed casinos in the area.

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