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Connecticut AG Wants End to Poker Nights

14 July 2004

STAMFORD, Connecticut – As reported by the Stamford Advocate: "Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal sent a letter yesterday urging three downtown Stamford bars to stop hosting weekly "poker nights," but bar owners said they are confused because state officials initially told them the tournaments were legal.

"Blumenthal sent the letter to four bars in the state, including SBC, Temple Bar and Rack 'n' Roll in Stamford. The other bar is Eli's on Whitney in Hamden. He will send the same warning to other bars 'as the inquiry proceeds,' Blumenthal said.

"…None of the Stamford bars received the letter as of yesterday. David Rutigliano, owner of SBC, said his bar will continue hosting poker games until the state tells him they are illegal. Managers at Temple Bar said they had not made a decision about their Wednesday night game.

"Last week, officials from the state Liquor Control Division said barroom poker -- games have attracted as many as 80 players in Stamford -- violates state laws that ban gambling except social games between friends. Officials from the state Department of Special Revenue said the games break state agreements that grant American Indian casinos the exclusive right to run most casino games, including poker.

"…But Stamford bar owners said they began hosting the games only after getting approval from the Liquor Control Division. The agency told them large-scale poker tournaments were fine as long as the bar did not take a percentage of the winnings or demand a separate cover charge from players…"

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