Minnesota State Senator Dave Kleis is puzzled. He scratches his head at the thought of bars, restaurants, and other public establishments having their owners and managers arrested for holding promotional poker tournaments. Senator Kleis was present when a friend of his, who runs the Granite Falls Bowling Alley in the Senator's hometown of St. Cloud, MN, was complaining about how he was arrested for trying to get people into his establishment by running a poker tournament. The Senator heard his friend's story, and decided to do something about it.
Senator Kleis, a Republican, this morning announced his bill which he will put forth on the Minnesota Senate floor. This bill would legalize promotional, and charity poker tournaments held at public places, and possibly allow small buy in tournaments at places like social clubs, and organizations. Minnesota currently has about 20 legal card clubs, the most prominent of them being the Canterbury Card Club, which opened in April of 2000, and is only about 40 miles from the state's largest cities, the twin cities of Minneapolis/St Paul. The vast majority of legal card clubs are built on Indian land, and Canterbury is no exception; the town of Shakopee (where Canterbury is located) is named after a Sioux Indian Chief who led an uprising against Minnesota settlers in the 1860's. But it seems the uprising now is in the hands of Senator Kleis, whose bill will be voted on in the spring.
Not everyone is thrilled with the Senator's proposal, however. Canterbury Park's Joe Anderson worries about poker tournaments with cash being held in less than secure locations. ""One thing a gaming casino can provide is security," Anderson says. "There's a lot of money that's in house. With security, you have the safeguard of someone watching."
Certainly the Minnesota State senate is not the US Senate. But poker fans can watch this situation develop, and hope that Senator Kleis is simply the first in a long line of public officials who see no harm in public poker tournaments. Hopefully, Senator Kleis' colleagues will soon realize that playing a $20 poker tournament is not a crime, and the owner of the Granite Falls Bowling Alley will be able to attract people to his business, without attracting the police.