TALENT — That friendly, penny-ante poker game held in homes is no longer illegal in town following a City Council vote to strike all language on gambling and social games from the city's ordinances.
City officials discovered the games were illegal after residents of Mountain View Estates manufactured home park complained to the police about one of their own holding poker tournaments in the park's club house.
"Several residents down there were complaining to the park manager, and it ultimately came to us because of the city ordinances," said Talent police Chief Mike Moran. "That was one of those ordinances I really wasn't familiar with."
Resident Ron Medinger had been holding the tournaments every other month for about a year-and-a-half before they became an issue in the spring, said park manager Chris Hudson. They were halted once their illegality became apparent.
Concerns included cars and people coming and going, and parking problems, said Hudson.
"We have an elderly community. A lot of elderly, single women," said Hudson. "It scared them. They didn't know who was coming and going."
Mountain View's attorney, James Stout, has advised Hudson to not allow games in the club house but said they can be held in private residences.
Medinger spoke at a couple of council meetings, said Moran. Attempts to reach Medinger for comment were unsuccessful.
Gambling in Talent now will be regulated under state ordinances, which allow social games in private homes and bingo, lotto, raffles and Monte Carlo events by charitable, fraternal and religious organizations. The laws prohibit house players, house odds and a house bank.
Councilman Chris Auer raised the issue after conversations with Medinger.
"It seemed to me that this ordinance was just very extreme," said Auer. "I wanted to know what other councilors thought, and was it worthwhile to make some adjustments."
Auer said it was an ethically responsible move to push for the change since he's not a gambler, although he does occasionally play games where no money is involved with family and friends.
"Every council member seemed to be in agreement that it was a pretty extreme ordinance," said Auer. "We felt that the state law seemed appropriate and efficient."
Council members chose not to amend the city ordinance to allow social gaming in private businesses, clubs and public accommodations. That move would have allowed the city to regulate and license the games.
Apart from the Mountain View issues, social gambling has not caused problems in Talent, Moran said.
Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at email@example.com.