Elderly members of the Minoru Place Seniors' Centre in Richmond, BC, Canada were prohibited from playing in that place their favorite afternoon pastime, Texas Hold'em, simply because they were playing with cash involved, which is clearly a violation of provincial gambling regulations.
It only costs you 10 cents a chip for a buy-in to the Texas Hold'em games held at the Minoru Place Seniors' Centre in Richmond, British Columbia. The poker group consisted of 40 seniors, ranging from ages 55 to 95. Unfortunately, their afternoon card game sessions had recently been shut down because of the reason: they were playing with cash on the table.
The seniors' centre is managed in cooperation with the City of Richmond and the Minoru Seniors Society, and the centre's officials informed the group members that they are not allowed to play as long as there was cash involved because it violates provincial gambling regulations.
The group members who've been meeting and playing afternoon poker for 10 years felt devastated.
Director of Communications for the City of Richmond Ted Townsend said the card games violate provincial gambling regulations. All card games that involve cash are deemed illegal gaming activities. Furthermore, the seniors' centre does not allow card games that involve cash. He said, "We are quite happy to have poker and other card games happening at the centre... They're very popular and we want to support that, but we have to uphold the law."
While Townsend still encourages the group from meeting, he said there's not much the city can do if there is cash involved in the games, "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."
Here's what some of the elderly players said about the incident:
Marilyn Berger: "If anybody is playing poker, it's more fun if you play for a little bit of money and it makes it more interesting. We're not playing for large amounts of money, it's not about gambling, we're playing for fun."
Serena Lambert said the games were an opportunity for the seniors to socialize, "It's no fun at all, you might as well just stay home and play solitaire."
Charles McLaughlin said he played card games to get out of his house and likes to be with others whose company he enjoys. He said that they can be themselves and laugh about their moments of memory loss, "It has very little to do with poker... I've been by myself for a while, and I was spending too much time sitting at home so I wanted to get out."
After the group members were banned from playing poker at the centre, they tried to play at their own individual homes, but the problem is there wasn't enough space. Marilyn Berger said, "All we want to do is work with the city and amend the law to allow us to play and have some fun."
There's evidence that playing card games can have various health for seniors. Senior care experts say that elderly people can enjoy the following benefits when playing card games: cognitive stimulation to help fight memory loss, encourage a stronger immune system, reduces stress, and promotes socialization.