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Fee increase for poker runs

SPRINGFIELD -- A change in one law could mean big problems for a popular charity event.
SPRINGFIELD -- A change in one law could mean big problems for a popular charity event. Starting in January, the state will charge higher fees to put on poker runs. WCIA-3's Ashley Michels has more.

When you see a big group of bikers out on the road, it's more than likely a poker run. Groups all across the state organize runs for charity. Kelly Thompson works for Justice for Illinois Wrongfully Convicted.

"It's fun. It's really, really fun to go to the differents stops and everybody has a great time. And we raise funds to help people that are wrongfully convicted."

Here is how it works. The group rides to seven different places. Each person picks a card out of a deck at every stop, and whoever has the best poker hand at the end, wins a prize.

But starting in January, poker runs will be considered charitable gaming. Meaning organizers will need a $400 license every year they have one. Each stop will have to buy a special license, too costing up to $150. Otherwise, it's illegal gambling.

"It's just the name of it, 'poker run.' We're not gambling, we view it more as a raffle," Thompson said.

Thompson says her group only makes a few hundred dollars as it is, so the new fees will hardly make it worthwhile.

Representative Rich Brauer (R-Petersburg) said, "If you have a rainy day, there's gonna be a lot of people that are gonna lose money and not gain by it at all. I'm afraid it's gonna put an end to it if we don't make changes."

Brauer says he's working on a bill to put poker runs under county control instead. That way, groups wouldn't have to pay for a state license.
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