In the state of Maryland, poker players may soon be able to enjoy home games without the threat of fines or prison time, thanks to a bill that recently passed a House vote. House Bill 127 was introduced at the beginning of 2016 and was able to move through the State House with a vote of 139 to 0.
Delegate Kirill Reznik introduced the measure that will now move forward to the State Senate in companion bill form. In Maryland, home poker games have been ruled illegal for many years, with violators facing a $1,000 fine and prison time if caught taking part in poker gaming. But the odds of actually being charged are pretty rare.
HB 127 was also introduced as HB 486 and HB 59 in the past by Reznik as the legislator tried to see poker games legalized in the home. Both were unable to move forward but this year’s version seems to be gaining ground.
In 2014, the bill seemed to be avoided as new casinos were opening up in the state. If the bill had passed at the same time, it might have been looked at as there was too much of a gambling expansion taking place at that time. For 2016, the plan is to decriminalize the activity, though this bill is different than its previous form. This year, the bill has new language which places a limit of $500 on home games, when previously as much as $2,000 was allowed between all players taking part in the home game.
Additional language of the bill states that players will have to compete against each other from the same location and not use electronic devices, seemingly meaning players cannot compete against each other online. The host of the home game can take part but is not allowed to profit or take a rake, but can cash out during game play. These games are to be limited to once each week so a nightly game is not allowed.
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