Sorry. That sad tune isn't tugging on my heartstrings. Todd Erks laments his loss of illegal poker

Pick up this week's copy of the the Tea/Harrisburg Champion. And read the cover story by Jamie Gibson.

The story today by Gibson was good. It's the type of reporting we don't see in a lot of South Dakota papers. It wasn't sensationalized as the Argus tends to. It didn't just give a cursory superficial glance as many of the others. It was just a good solid story.

While not labeled as an "in-depth report," it really got to the meat of matters with Todd Erks. Todd, if you recall, is the gentleman who has been circulating the petitions to legalize texas hold 'em as tournaments involving skill. As opposed to it being gambling. The bottom line of ths story was very telling. Todd is at the juncture where he has to decide if his bar can make it without Texas Hold 'em Tournaments.

Clearly, his fight to place the measure on the ballot isn't about South Dakotans demanding the right to play a game of skill. It isn't about legalizing something that everybody is doing in their homes. It's about his needing the income from tournaments to keep his business open. From the article:
Last year, the Lottery Commission began cracking down on establishments that were running poker tournaments and keeping a percentage of the buy-in, or entry fee...


Now, those who once depended on his bar for Texas Hold ‘Em tournaments have “gone underground,” he says, gambling in the privacy of garages, basements, and warehouses—basically, wherever they can.

Erks agrees that re-introducing poker into his bar in the form of free tournaments could draw in big crowds again, maybe even as many as in his heyday last summer, when anywhere from 30-60 players paid to sit around a table and bet and bluff for hours. But he is also quick to see the drawbacks of holding what online poker calls “play money” tournaments.

“I’m afraid of hurting my business,” he says, explaining that it has taken him five months to build up his clientele after the “poker bust” and beer license fiasco.

There’s also the pressure that staging free tournaments would place on Erks’ beer sales.

“I’d have to sell 1,500 beers a month just to make rent,” he estimates.
I'm a bit confused at his last statement. Isn't selling beer what a bar does? If you open a beer bar, you would expect that before you opened it, you had figured out how to make that business viable by selling beer. Can't make it without holding illegal gambling tournaments? Why gambling? Why not just other illegal activities into the business equation as well?

Asking that state voters legalize an illegal activity because you got caught is disingenuous. The fact that he needs the income he's getting from it to keep his business open is worse.


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