Indiana State Officials Say They Will Not Enforce Laws against Euchre-Playing Senior Citizens
Indiana Governor Mike Pence said through a spokesman this week that he has no intention to shut down a euchre game which is played by seniors for entertainment. Pence’s spokesman said the governor had asked the gaming commission to “ensure common sense prevails”.
Meanwhile, the Indiana Gaming Commission’s executive director said on Monday that the state “did not, and never had, any plans to take action” against a group of senior citizens in Muncie who played euchre for money, which is a violation of state gaming laws.
Euchre-for-Prizes Shut Down
Despite the pronouncements from Indiana’s leading officials on gambling enforcement, several senior centers have indicated they plan to shut down the practice of real-money card playing.
The Delaware County Senior Citizens Center has said it has ended the long-time practice of offer prizes for games of euchre. Those contests took play three-times-a-week and are said to be a great joy to the senior citizens who live at the center.
Ruth Bosch Takes a Stand
The director of the Jennings County Senior Center told the Star Press that prizes have been discontinueed in her centers games of euchre. According to that director, Ruth Bosch, the state has presented concerns about the play-for-money gaming–though no one named which representative of the state.
Despite her center’s decision to comply rigidly with the state’s law, Mrs. Bosch was irate that euchre games were singled-out by state officials. She said, “Something has to be done so a large part of the population can legally play cards. The law has to be amended. If you are a fraternal or veterans group you can play, but at a senior center, where they contribute 50 cents toward a prize of a can of peaches, they can’t do it.”
Peaches and Toilet Paper
Bosch wanted the readers of the Star Press to understand the prizes which were being offered. She added, “They’re getting toilet paper and peaches and the state somehow sees this as a huge issue. It’s not a good law.”
Ruth Bosch said that the law simply needs to be rewritten. With minor changes in the wording, a carve-out for euchre and other senior games could be included.
Bosch said, “I’ve fought this for a year. The problem with the way the law is written, you can only play cards if you are a fraternal or veterans organization. That is so debilitating to groups like the senior center in Muncie and to us.”
Each Player Paid $2.50
The Star Press was instrumental in bringing the state’s enforcement actions to light. The newspaper printed in the online version of the Sunday press that the euchre groups at the West Eighth Street Senior Center had collected $2.50 per player to pay for cans of peaches, cookies, cleaning products, and toilet paper, which served as the prizes for the event. Some of the players and those players’ relatives had said that the inclusion of money and prizes had taken the fun out fo the games.
When state law enforcement officials read the story, they appear to have instituted a crackdown. Local law enforcement officials like Sheriff Ray Dudley and Delaware County Prosecutor Jeffrey Arnold said they had been unaware of the state’s contact with the senior homes. Both Dudley and Arnold said the state’s actions seemed out of proportion to the situation.
Jeffrey Arnold told the paper, “Let’s look for a resolution. These are not criminals you’re talking about, for heaven’s sake.”
Kara Brooks, the communications director for Gov. Mike Pence, said in a statement on Monday that the governor had taken action to stop the regulators from overreacting. Brooks said, “When Governor Pence became aware of the situation in Muncie this morning, he directed the Indiana Gaming Commission to make sure it does not have any plans to shut down euchre card games at the Delaware County Senior Citizens Center or to take enforcement action against them. He has asked the Commission to review its procedures to ensure common sense prevails when reviewing complaints and concerns.”
Indiana Gaming Commission director Sara Tait issues a two-paragraph statement on the issue on Monday. Tait said, “Card games like these are very similar to developing a Final Four bracket or $5 poker night with friends. The Indiana Gaming Commission uses a common sense litmus test and did not, and never had, any plans to take enforcement action against this euchre club.“
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