Logistics of starting a Freeroll cardroom (2 Viewers)

T_Chan

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Aside from building custom poker tables and accessories, my company also offers rental services for poker, blackjack, roulette and baccarat. No craps yet because the only craps tables we have we can't move, those things are massive! As of last year, I've actually split my company where the rental business has branched off into its own company, Full House Party Rentals.

I'm looking to expand the rental company and want to open a cardroom. The cardroom though, would be a freeroll casino. So here's the scoop:
  • Find a venue, offer freeroll poker tournaments with a prize to the winners.
  • Run events weekly, or several times a week where players earn points for a grand prize annually or semi-annually. Quarterly?
  • Get sponsorship from local companies (or non local like WSOP or WPT) to sponsor prizes for the winners, either cash or gifts. I'm thinking like the local auto shop or restaurant.
  • Offer drinks and food for profit.
  • Fill the room with high end custom tables as a showroom for Chanman Poker Tables.
  • Make the venue available for rentals. Normally we load up our tables, chips, cards, etc into our truck and drive out to their venue that they book and do the setup, run the event, tear it all down and leave. With our own venue, we can invite people to come to our location where we no longer have to do any of the load in and load out.
  • Also offer other games for staff parties and team building events. They can be straight up play money casino nights, or we can offer teaching services, showing noobies how to play all of the various games.
Of course, I have to consider the costs.
  • Rent
  • Pay for dealers
  • Setup fees. Kitchen, Fridges, Coffee machines, decoration, etc.
  • Utilities
  • Consumables: Cards, buttons, felts, chips
  • Insurance
  • Security? Probably not necessary since no money of any significance would be on site.
There's probably lots of other costs I haven't thought of either. There might be other income possibilities as well that I haven't thought of. I've often thought that I should get a photo booth for my rentals, we're often side by side with a photo booth for weddings, staff parties and birthdays. Depending on the event, we can also have a DJ, caricature artist, temp tattoo artist, magician and so on for other entertainment.

Any feedback is welcome. This is a pie in the sky thought right now because it's going to take a lot of money, time and effort to get something like this going. I'm currently already at my max bandwidth running the poker table shop to put much energy into this venture, but one can dream...

Part of me thinks that a good way into this is to setup a restaurant and just put in a whole bunch of poker tables inside instead of dining tables. Down play the food side of it, but it would be available for profit in order to pay for everything as well as allow for a liquor license. This is essentially a brainstorming session to determine how to earn money to pay for everything without taking a rake.
 
Threat analysis and some quick thoughts- mostly looking at risks to help you consider them. Not trying to bash the idea:

There’s typically a “poker” or gambling element to auctions I attend. There are a host of local companies that throw stuff together for cheap. Meh tables, awful plastic chips, ok dealers. Problem is, loaded with alcohol, folks aren’t looking for quality, they want to gamboool! So folks look past it. Folks also run these things in either their own space (e.g., large school gym) or an events space.

You may have a premium opportunity, but will folks pay for it? If you’re looking build and showcase top of the line tables, then can you recover that cost? And how many folks will jump for a table? Do you have the capacity to take on more business?

Now, after the massive purchase you made, the details of which I’ve forgotten, maybe any revenue is better than none, and if you’re able to charge accordingly, I think you may be on to something.

Is your space large and big enough to host big events like charity auctions? Are there enough large business and schools willing to rent your space & stuff? Don’t know your operating costs. Don’t know if weddings and poker mix.

Hard to do this in a thread- don’t need to refute or rebut, I’m just throwing out some ideas to consider. Happy to chat more if you’d like. It’s an interesting idea, one worth fully exploring. I’ll be looking for updates.
 
While I would attend this type of event if I'm in the area, I don't think a freeroll open-to-the-public model is going to attract the right type of people to buy your tables.

I would sell freeroll casino nights to companies looking to host a fun event for their employees. Holiday parties, etc.
 
This is a great concept, but I worry about the sustainability of it. Sounds like a lot of up-front costs, especially for liquor and food service licenses. You'll need to calculate your revenue streams.

You'll need to define your operations so that it doesn't cross over into traditional casino territory.
 
I don’t think you should underestimate the value of security, especially where liquor and cards mix.
And, even though it’s a free roll, the perception of cash at the venue may encourage a criminal aspect.
 
1) Do you need a gaming license?
2) If you get a gaming license, are you getting chips made?
3) Dibs on being an insider..
I know when we hire an outside service for these kind of events we are allowed one license a year for a gambling fundraiser and the org that brings the chips/tabes/dealers require that to be acquired before they can confirm the event date/contract.
 
I very much appreciate the feedback. My post is really about the viability about if something like this would work.

Problem is, loaded with alcohol, folks aren’t looking for quality, they want to gamboool! So folks look past it. Folks also run these things in either their own space (e.g., large school gym) or an events space.

Agreed that the high quality tables probably aren't necessary. That part is still in the air if I'd want to do that, or just have run of the mill tables that are just decent. Promoting my table building company is not the priority, it would be a nice bonus if it happened.

Now, after the massive purchase you made, the details of which I’ve forgotten, maybe any revenue is better than none, and if you’re able to charge accordingly, I think you may be on to something.

Yes, I would be using many of the tables I purchased from the Las Vegas TV shoot haul. I'd be setting up the craps table for sure, as well as at least 1 of each of the other tables.

Is your space large and big enough to host big events like charity auctions? Are there enough large business and schools willing to rent your space & stuff? Don’t know your operating costs. Don’t know if weddings and poker mix.

I would want to get a space large enough to host at least 100 players. Currently BCLC allows up to 100 player events. Any charity who gets a class B license around here can run a proper poker tournament for charity, albeit with a lot of restrictions.

I would sell freeroll casino nights to companies looking to host a fun event for their employees. Holiday parties, etc.

Yes I currently already do that, but we go on site to a venue they rent, or to their business. This would give me the option to have people come to me instead. If a place like this existed, it could be an attraction. Some sort of extra curricular activity for groups, like an escape room or paintballing.

1) Do you need a gaming license?
2) If you get a gaming license, are you getting chips made?
3) Dibs on being an insider..

No, I don't. But anyone that rents our services to host a charity tournament does. I also wouldn't need a license for the freerolls even though I'm giving out prizes, since I wouldn't be asking people to pay.

I know when we hire an outside service for these kind of events we are allowed one license a year for a gambling fundraiser and the org that brings the chips/tabes/dealers require that to be acquired before they can confirm the event date/contract.

In BC we're allowed up to once per month. Again, I wouldn't be the one getting the license, that would be whoever hires us. So technically, the same company could do it up to once per month. We could run events every day of the week with licensed events as long as it's not the same organization doing it every time.

one of the events could be a PCF meetup :)

Yep, absolutely.
 
In BC we're allowed up to once per month. Again, I wouldn't be the one getting the license, that would be whoever hires us. So technically, the same company could do it up to once per month. We could run events every day of the week with licensed events as long as it's not the same organization doing it every time.

So cool! California is a bit strict.
 
Well, events can be held pretty frequently but the rules are very strict here about what can be done during the event. I think one of the biggest issues is payouts. Max buy in is $100 per player, and the max payout is $2k total with a single prize of $1000 or less. That's a hefty rake...

Though I suppose if you have a $40 buy in @ 100 players, then half goes back to the players which is pretty typical of a charity fundraiser event.

Having frequent freerolls also means that for charities who want to have events, we would be able to contribute a large player pool to play in their paid events. There's been times when charities try to get good attendance but end up selling half as many tickets as they planned.
 
Well, events can be held pretty frequently but the rules are very strict here about what can be done during the event. I think one of the biggest issues is payouts. Max buy in is $100 per player, and the max payout is $2k total with a single prize of $1000 or less. That's a hefty rake...

Though I suppose if you have a $40 buy in @ 100 players, then half goes back to the players which is pretty typical of a charity fundraiser event.

Having frequent freerolls also means that for charities who want to have events, we would be able to contribute a large player pool to play in their paid events. There's been times when charities try to get good attendance but end up selling half as many tickets as they planned.
Oh. We can give away gift cards and prizes to winners, but I don't think there is an entry limit.
 
My #1 concern is government interference. Short of paying off local connections and DQ discretion I don't know how you could do this as a reliable business in Canada right ght now. In the past I trained rode thoroughbreds in Ontario and am very familiar with the OLG rules. I thought, why not look into setting up a charity monte carlo type business for businesses and individuals to rent table services etc for a day/days for their events and use a formula to split revenue for the purposes of charity fundraising. I had locations, interested potential clients and began to seriously investigate and what I found was very depressing. In Ontario Canada essentially without being "first nations" and/or the ability to also operate an "event" along with gaming on site for minimum 40 days + fees (50-100k+ permit) for each table and requirements for a horrendous amount of cameras paer table...I think blackjack required min 3 per player and 5 positions or more on the dealer per table. Roulette required an ungodly amount of cameras ~4+/square + /dealers/player positions etc.....
All of this equipment had to be available of part of the business plan required for a permit of operation and the overhead for me at the time and currently is just impossible. It's a shame it would have been a lot of fun.
 
Other likely costs:

* Cleaning
* Maintenance (e.g. HVAC)
* Supplies (TP, soap, napkins, plates, glasses, etc.)
* Licensing for liquor, food

Also the space either needs to be already set up for public gatherings (exit signs, handicap compliance, etc.) or updated to meet local codes.
 
A few random thoughts:

-- use standard poker tables with a full-blown all-options Chanman custom for the final table (the 'feature' table)

-- sell poker-related merchandise: cards, chips, trays, buttons, table-tops, T-shirts, hoodies, hats, sunglasses, earbuds (half-joking on the last two)

-- I like the photo booth idea, and also marketing/catering to bachelor(ette) parties as a tie-in

-- cross-sponsorship with local upscale pool hall facilities (and similar businesses)

-- related to above, offering wall-space and table-space advertising to local businesses as a revenue stream

-- looking for employees?
 
In Ontario Canada essentially without being "first nations" and/or the ability to also operate an "event" along with gaming on site for minimum 40 days + fees (50-100k+ permit) for each table and requirements for a horrendous amount of cameras paer table...I think blackjack required min 3 per player and 5 positions or more on the dealer per table. Roulette required an ungodly amount of cameras ~4+/square + /dealers/player positions etc.....

Hmmm I'll have to look into that. I'm pretty familiar with BCLC regulations, but don't recall reading anything about continuous days of gaming. We already offer rental services for charities, so would have thought that moving it to one location for all events wouldn't be a problem but I see the concern.

I wouldn't be profit sharing or income splitting with the charities. They would be strictly renting the venue, renting the equipment and running their own events. When it comes to the freeroll tournaments, I don't think there would be any government interference because there's no money being collected from players to enter.

Other likely costs:

* Cleaning
* Maintenance (e.g. HVAC)
* Supplies (TP, soap, napkins, plates, glasses, etc.)
* Licensing for liquor, food

Also the space either needs to be already set up for public gatherings (exit signs, handicap compliance, etc.) or updated to meet local codes.

Yes indeed. All those costs need to be added to my list. And yes, ideally I would find a space that was formally being used as a location for customers to gather. A former clothing retail outlet or something would be good. Food would be really basic. Pretty much just enough to get a liquor license. I'm sure guests would be fine with Mac & Cheese for every meal :ROFL: :ROFLMAO:
 
Hmmm I'll have to look into that. I'm pretty familiar with BCLC regulations, but don't recall reading anything about continuous days of gaming. We already offer rental services for charities, so would have thought that moving it to one location for all events wouldn't be a problem but I see the concern.

I wouldn't be profit sharing or income splitting with the charities. They would be strictly renting the venue, renting the equipment and running their own events. When it comes to the freeroll tournaments, I don't think there would be any government interference because there's no money being collected from players to enter.



Yes indeed. All those costs need to be added to my list. And yes, ideally I would find a space that was formally being used as a location for customers to gather. A former clothing retail outlet or something would be good. Food would be really basic. Pretty much just enough to get a liquor license. I'm sure guests would be fine with Mac & Cheese for every meal :ROFL: :ROFLMAO:

I would suggest consulting legal advice for clear direction so you are prepared best before investing much more time and resources.
 
Yeah that's for certain. I'm certainly not putting any money into this venture until I feel like there's good potential. And before that, I'd want to make sure it's something that is at least do-able.
 
As others have mentioned, I love the idea, but don’t think you’re going to get the right customers. Most real poker players, I think would opt to spend their time at a card room, buying into a cheap tournament with a real cash prize.

Just pitching ideas as I sip my morning coffee, what if you held a once a month high end charity poker game. Have a Biane of $200 or so with the prize money going to either a pre-establish charity that rotates monthly, or it can go to a list of preapproved charities that the winner can pick from and gets to sign the check to. Have a small catered snack buffet from a local deli and invite doctors and lawyers and obviously any kind of philanthropist that you know. Work with local nonprofits and they will help promote the events.
 
While I agree, I'm not actually looking for casino type players. This venture would be for the casual and recreational player. It's really meant for fun, not for people looking to play serious poker.

Unfortunately with our local government licenses available, the max buy in is $100 per person and a freeze out. The max payout allowable is $2k, total and a single prize of $1k. The rest goes to charity and costs.

It would also be a little difficult to find enough players who are willing to donate on a regular basis. People will do it a few times but can get a little fatigue from donating all time.

We would def look for sponsorship and donations for the food, drinks, signage for advertising, even custom felts for each event for the tables.


So reading through the license regulations again last night I found out that any venue can host a max of 1 licensed event per week. Still not bad because we have 52 weeks in the year. Not every night needs to be a charity tournament. Other nights can be filled with funny money casino nights and the freeroll tournaments.
 
While I agree, I'm not actually looking for casino type players. This venture would be for the casual and recreational player. It's really meant for fun, not for people looking to play serious poker.

Unfortunately with our local government licenses available, the max buy in is $100 per person and a freeze out. The max payout allowable is $2k, total and a single prize of $1k. The rest goes to charity and costs.

It would also be a little difficult to find enough players who are willing to donate on a regular basis. People will do it a few times but can get a little fatigue from donating all time.

We would def look for sponsorship and donations for the food, drinks, signage for advertising, even custom felts for each event for the tables.


So reading through the license regulations again last night I found out that any venue can host a max of 1 licensed event per week. Still not bad because we have 52 weeks in the year. Not every night needs to be a charity tournament. Other nights can be filled with funny money casino nights and the freeroll tournaments.
It's really too bad it's not possible to open a stand alone cardroom in BC (a dream of mine).

Have you checked out any of the free poker games hosted at bars? The audience and attendance levels there may give you an idea of what you could expect.

As mentioned above, I feel like (could be wrong) there is a very specific subset of poker player who would play freerolls (even among recreational players). My gut says this subset could be difficult to get to come out to a poker specific venue (playing a free game at your local bar that has poker could be different).

You may even want to think about a split between other non-gambling table games like board games, etc. The other local game/restaurant locations seem to be pretty busy.

Any thoughts on location?
 
I haven't checked out the bar poker scene, though there's been many of them out there that have been running for years. I know people who have played in them, and have been dealers at those events so I have a good general idea.

I would definitely want to attract some higher quality players if possible, though that would be very tough for freerolls. I think that if the prizes are substantial enough, I could get some great people. If I can run it well and for a while, we could even give away prizes to WSOP and WPT satellite events which would be a big draw. At the start, it would be gift cards from sponsors which would hopefully grow to bigger value GC's or prizes as we get more traction.

And yes, I've though about hosting board games as well since poker tables are great for board games. Possibly even putting in a pool table and foosball table which would both be coin op. It would essentially be a bit of a big social club that's mostly aimed at poker.

No thoughts on location yet, I'm not anywhere near that stage. Wherever it is though, I would want it to be easily accessible to public transit, and West of Coquitlam. Maybe New West or Burnaby. Vancouver would be great since that's where most of the people are, but then the rent shoots way up.
 
Rotating chipsets.

Well, not so much as rotating, as "New" for each event.

Contact me if you need a place to sell the old chips. I think I can turn you a small profit generating extra revenue...:whistle: :whistling:
 

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