A Major Break for Poker Run Fundraisers

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By Sam Jones
By Benjy Jeffords

WILLIAMSON COUNTY --  The governor visited our region to sign a new bill designed to help raise money for charities.

Governor Quinn signed the poker run legislation in Marion Tuesday. Last year lawmakers decided to regulate the popular charity fundraisers under the Illinois Gaming Act. That meant much higher fees and licensing costs, and put a stop to many of them in our area. This session, lawmakers came up with a fix.

History was made at Black Diamond Harley Davidson when Governor Pat Quinn changed regulations for poker runs.

“Southern Illinois’ got a big heart and I wanted to sign this bill as fast as possible,” Quinn said.

The law reduces fees from upwards of $600 to a one-time cost of $25. It gives much more money back to the charities, instead of the state.

“This things been shut down. Nobody would have poker runs because they thought they'd be doing it illegal, need permits, they wouldn't do nothing. Everybody was scared of this so everybody put everything on hold. Now after today and this bill they can start now,” explained Senator Gary Forby.

He’s been a longtime champion for the cause, along with motorcycle groups like A.B.A.T.E Illinois.

“This is proof positive that grass roots lobbying and grass roots political activism works,” Terri Ricci enthused.

She’s relieved to see all the hard work pay off. It's renewed her faith in bipartisan efforts and legislators' ties to their hometowns.

“Both sides win and it makes it affordable for us to have the poker runs and it doesn't cut too deep into the pockets of the charities,” she added,

The law means poker runs are now fall under the raffles act, putting county governments in control, and the focus back on the charities.

“We want to help anybody that has a charitable poker run to do that in a good a way as possible,” urged Quinn.

With warmer weather, there are dozens of poker runs every month. For the people who rely on the events to help change lives,  this law couldn't come at a better time.

The new poker run law takes effect immediately.

Marion Regional
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