Legal meetup.com membership dues

dp68094

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I have been running a 100% legit home game in Newport News, VA Since last October. I started it using Meetup.com and have over 70 members now. Obviously never take a rake, or charge for anything (it is illegal in VA). The club is great and I now have a ton of local players who are regulars.

The question is, meetup charges me $15/mo to run the website. I ponyed up the first 6 months just to see how it would be. Now that I wish to continue, I am willing to pay out of my own pocket, but wouldn't mind if we all could chip in to simply cover the expense of running the site.

The meetup site will allow me to charge membership, or alternately, charge for each event that I host.

QUESTION : Is it going to be legal if I can show that any funds collected on the site have only ever been used to pay the subscription and I can demonstrate that, even though I am the account holder, that I never withdrew any funds?
 

dennis63

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I regret to say I don't think you're right about the legality of your home game.

Most states that permit home games require a "bona fide social relationship" exist outside the game. Finding people -- essentially strangers -- on the internet doesn't qualify. The reason is obvious: the strangers might be the greatest people ever. They might also be robbers and serial killers.

In states allowing home games, you're usually limited to family, real friends and coworkers.

When I wrote the "poker and the law" article for CT, I got to talk to many law enforcement people, attorneys general, etc. One New Jersey gambling enforcement agent said they had no problem with a group of friends, family or coworkers playing Texas Hold 'em at somebody's house for money. (They didn't even care about limits.) But if you're at the casino (or other public place) and announce you're hosting a game, or post about it on the internet, it doesn't fit the definition of a home game, and is illegal. This was echoed in several calls or e-mails to other states. (I saved all the e-mails.)

I'd really check on this aspect of your game with somebody in Virginia.

Not trying to bring bad news, as I'm glad to see you are hosting a successful game. I wish more people could find 70 players, so you're obviously doing something right. I don't want to see it get shut down.
 
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Mental Nomad

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Dennis is exactly right; double check your laws to know your rights, but you probably cannot advertise your game to anyone you don't already know and still be 100% legal.

As far as paying for the site, I suggest the following:

Put up a sign with coffee can. Put 20 lines on it, dated for each month - starting six months in the past.
Title it: "Donated $15 for a month of meetup.com fees. Thanks!"
Hand-write your name on the first six lines.

With 70 regulars, I'm sure a couple will pony up - and the instant peer pressure will prompt others to do so. They'll appreciate the hosting as well as the site that brings in the players... You'll probably never pay another month out of your pocket.
 

dp68094

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Interesting, there are a ton of folks on meetup doing this, and I did read the VA laws, at least briefly a while back... now I am going to have to take a closer look! Thanks for the comment!
 

brains613

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I will offer you some suggestions later, Dave. But I have simply solicited donations mostly. I usually wind up absorbing most of the cost myself, though. Even though I have MANY more members than you, I have maybe 60 or 70 active members at any one time. Some contribute regularly. Others never do. I just consider it the cost of being able to run a game anytime I want. I can usually fill a table on a days' notice... I've had the group for almost six years, and they keep raising the prices!
 

Mental Nomad

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I did read the VA laws, at least briefly a while back... now I am going to have to take a closer look! Thanks for the comment!

Just for comparison, in NY, it was legal for me to have a game where I invited anyone in my 60-story apartment building; our pre-existing relationship was that we live in the building together. I had a lot of neighbors.

However, I could not post a flyer in the elevators, because it would run afoul of the NY law against "promoting gambling."
 

pltrgyst

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...The question is, meetup charges me $15/mo to run the website....

You could always switch to some other site, like evite.com, which is free.

-- Larry
 

Mojo1312

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The gaming authorities do not want anyone outside of the participants at the table to profit from the game, which means no rake, rent, or selling of refreshments. They are less concerned with the "bona fide social relationship" part of the law.

I can't think of a case where someone's home game was raided for inviting a stranger over for cards.

Think about it.
 

200 Motels

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The hell with home poker but the bastards will legalize weed.

Idiots.

Colorado regulated weed. Part of their goal was to eliminate the black market, which appears to have been a success. They've also brought in millions in tax revenue.

Home games, should there be no regulations about them, is promoting a black market. Should they regulate poker, it would be made available, commercially, like weed in Colorado. I believe poker is legal in a commercial establishment (aka casino), in most states.
 

Strike1st

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Colorado regulated weed. Part of their goal was to eliminate the black market, which appears to have been a success. They've also brought in millions in tax revenue.

Home games, should there be no regulations about them, is promoting a black market. Should they regulate poker, it would be made available, commercially, like weed in Colorado. I believe poker is legal in a commercial establishment (aka casino), in most states.

In Michigan they're going after charity poker rooms and want to shut those down. Regulate weed in Colorado...pffffft. Just as much bull as the medical Mariana program in Michigan...you can get a card and grow and sell up to 8 people I believe tax free. My buddy's sister does it.

It's all bs finding ways to take our rights away.

Won't be long and they will regulate how many times a day I can crap, how large the crap can be and the amount of gasses will from said crap will be regulated.
 

brains613

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Evite is good for managing an invite list of people you already know...

But meet.com is about finding new people and groups.


This is accurate. Evite wouldn't be useful under these circumstances. I know another player who uses Evite. But his game is an "invite only" game, where you have to get on a list.

To the OP, I couldn't make it on Saturday. But I also wanted to point out the new feature on meetup. That "Chip In" button. The problem is that you, the organizer has to sign up for a service called "Wepay". Contibutors don't pay any fees, but the service takes a cut. On a contribution of $15, I got 13.37.
 
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