Western Canada senior citizen poker game halted by local authorities

Apr 24, 2017 10:27 AM

Losing with pocket aces is a thing of the past at a Western Canada senior citizen center where a long running, low-stakes poker game has been halted by local authorities.

The group of about 40 seniors, ranging in age from 55 to 95, had their afternoon card games shut down because they were playing for cash.

Officials at the center, which is operated jointly by the City of Richmond and the Minoru Seniors Society, told the group members they could no longer play as long as money was involved because it violates British Columbia gambling regulations.

The CBC reports that the low rolling seniors’, playing for a dime a chip, were crushed when they learned that their game, in operation for ten years, had to end.

"If anybody is playing poker, it's more fun if you play for a little bit of money and it makes it more interesting," player Marilyn Berger said.

"We're not playing for large amounts of money, it's not about gambling, we're playing for fun," she added.

Ted Townsend, director of communications for the City of Richmond, near Vancouver, said the card games violate provincial gambling regulations. Card games that involve the exchange of money are considered gaming activities and are therefore unlawful.

Townsend said he doesn't want to discourage the seniors' group from meeting, however, he added there's little the city can do.

"The provincial gaming authorities made it quite clear that that type of activity is illegal, it's not the type of activity that we could get a license for… We're a public body, we have to do the responsible thing," he said.

It was also noted that “house rules” at the senior center do not permit card games that involve money.

Card player Serena Lambert told the CBC, the games were a chance for seniors to socialize and now "It's no fun at all, you might as well just stay home and play solitaire."