City of Green River Looks to Update Gambling Ordinance

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GREEN RIVER– The Office of the City Prosecutor with support of the Chief of Police and the Green River Police Department is proposing an ordinance amending gambling laws in the City of Green River to align with the state statute.

According to Green River City Prosecutor Billy Pineda and GRPD Police Chief Tom Jarvie, the current gambling laws are outdated and do not conform with the state statute.

The Green River City Council unanimously passed the first reading of the amended ordinance at Tuesday night’s meeting.

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Games of Skill vs Games of Chance

At the state level, there is currently an issue of defining the difference between games of skill and games of chance. Some groups and businesses have filed lawsuits against the state over this issue.

However, Pineda said that the purpose of the city’s amendments to the ordinance is to update it to align with state statute. He said it is the council’s job to decide if they agree with the state statute or not.

If state statute changes, Pineda said they may have to revisit the city’s ordinance again and readdress the issue.

Are Bunco Groups and Poker Nights Gambling?

Councilwoman Lisa Maes asked how the amended gambling laws would affect certain games and fundraisers such as poker runs, poker nights at someone’s residence, or bunco groups, which she is part of.

Maes said her bunco group puts money in a pot, and the winner takes it home at the end of the game.

Chief Jarvie said according to the current gambling laws, that is considered gambling. However, he said the GRPD is not concerned with private residences when it comes to enforcing gambling laws.

He said the changes to the ordinance should make gambling laws more consistent. One of GRPD’s primary concerns with gambling is ensuring enforcement is fair from business to business, and the amendments will allow them to do this.

Exceptions to the Gambling Laws

Pineda said the updated laws include exceptions for charitable, nonprofit, educational, private clubs, fundraisers, and religious games and events.

This means that charitable events such as poker runs or bingo nights are more than likely going to be exempt from the laws.