The phenomenon of Texas Hold 'em poker hit the entire country like a hand of four aces. The game itself has been played in places like Las Vegas and Reno for years but became popularized by televised series like the World Poker Championships. But, it's no longer as easy to find a game locally.
A new law recently enacted restricts online betting and makes it very difficult to cut through all the red tape to organize a game with a local gaming license.
Over the past year, on most weekends, a tournament would be going on somewhere in Putnam County. The American Legions, Eagles, Moose and VFW have all held events. As non-profit entities, they can legally hold a tournament every three months.
But, recently because of the new laws, they are refusing to hold tourneys.
Tim Spurlock, Administrator of Greencastle Moose Lodge 1592, told the BannerGraphic that his lodge would no longer be holding tournaments because there was so much red tape involved.
"It's not worth taking a chance on losing our non-profit license just to hold a poker game every three or four months.
"People really enjoyed it, but we don't want to take a chance on messing up things for the entire lodge," he stated.
Gambling-related activities are among the most heavily regulated businesses in the world. Applicants are screened through a comprehensive background investigation.
It involves examination of the applicant's personal, business, and financial relationships and associations.
Special Agents for the Gambling Enforcement Division conduct the license applicant investigations. Recently 10 new Excise officers were hired by the state of Indiana to rigorously enforce any violations.
The changes in the law also now require the arrest of all individuals from the bartender and waitresses to the game organizers and players.
The American Legion, which was cited earlier in the year for a poker game, has also stopped holding any Texas Hold 'em tournaments. They have a gaming license and could have a tourney every three months but don't want to risk losing their bingo games.
Legion Bar Manager Laurie Ford told the BannerGraphic, "We have a gaming license and we use it for bingo. Things have just changed so much that we don't want to jeopardize our bingo games.
It really brings in a lot more than the Texas Hold 'em games. But, we have a lot of people who don't have anywhere to play Hold 'em anymore, and they are disappointed," she reports.
Diehard players who still want to play the game must head to legalized gambling areas like Las Vegas or Reno. You can also play online poker although changes in the law have also affected on line betting. If you don't care about the betting end you can find lots of games online.
In order to learn the game, however, you must play and you must play fairly often.
"We just aren't willing to take the risk," Spurlock concluded.