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Police Officers to Stop Poker in Portsmouth

Since the summer of 2006, the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police was able to raise about $90,000 for education and other activities by holding a poker tournament at a nearby bingo hall. On April 14, 2007, with the continuing issue about the legality of the poker games, Texas Hold'em poker will stop.

The event organizer and Vice President of the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police stated that they will stop the games. The Fraternal Order's 1 year contract with the bingo hall will end on June 2007. He further stated that they will keep their promise to the city officials to stop the games if they are asked to.

The decision to stop the poker tournament follows months of discussion between officials because of the murky gambling laws in Virginia. The law in the state defines that illegal gambling is making any wager of cash or anything that has value made in place for a chance to win any cash or material. One of the main factors is whether poker is a game of skill or just a game of luck.

It often depends on who you ask. The Commonwealth Attorney of Virginia Beach has stopped a similar poker tournament. Some people believe that the poker games are only games of chance. The Commonwealth Attorney of Portsmouth, Earle Mobley, stated that another part of the gaming law in Virginia which states that no one shall stop any tournament or contest between people, animals or vehicles where a winner can receive any prizes, monetary or otherwise.

A spokesman for Mobley's office, Bill Prince, commented that the local leaders in the area need some direction from Virginia lawmakers or from the office of the Attorney General. Delegate John Reid, a Republican from Henrico, proposed the bill that would have permitted the state to regulate charitable tournaments like poker.

However, the proposal still has not been approved and Del. Reid is already retiring. Delegate David Albo, a Republican from Fairfax, leads the committee that will evaluate the legislation.

He commented that he is not in favor of the proposal allowing casino games and poker games in Virginia even though the state allows bingo and lottery, which he also considers gambling. The organizers of the poker tournament in Portsmouth commented that they have raised around $88,000 for the Portsmouth Catholic Elementary School and the charitable foundation of the state's FOP.


05/10/2007, Thursday
Todd Sanders

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