A popular card game would be reclassified as a game of skill, not gambling, under legislaton before the Unicameral. Senator Tyson Larson of O’Neill says poker should be put in a different category so it can become legal in the state.
“You can be a professional poker player but you cannot be a professional coin flipper,” Tyson says. “You can lose a poker hand on purpose, but you cannot lose a coin flip on purpose. You can have the worst hand sitting there but be the best poker player and win the hand. It is obvious it is a game of skill, therefore, constitutional under the Nebraska constitution.”
Under his bill, Larson suggests the state allow poker to be played in licensed facilities and all pots would be split.
“Fifty percent will go into the property tax credit relief fund, 25% will go to the local municipality where the game is held and the other 25% will go to the local county,” Larson says. “So, not only are we helping statewide property tax issues, we’re giving money back to the counties and the cities to ensure that maybe they don’t have to raise their levies quite as much.”
The legislation stipulates that only Nebraska facilities with liquor licenses could have poker and they’d have to get a special provision on the license.
“The concept is, if you have this special endorsement on your liquor license, you will be able to host poker tournaments or cash games,” Larson says, “and the state will take a percentage of any tournament that you host or any hand that you have in a cash game.”
Larson says his bill could be incorporated into plans to take the pressure off rising property taxes.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton