City Official: Casino Night May Be Legal
License Commissioner Says OK If Free
The Quincy House Casino Night, which the College cancelled last week after the Cambridge Police questioned its legality, may be lawful, according to the Cambridge license commissioner.
"We understood from the police that the rental of the equipment was the problem," Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III said yesterday. He refused to comment on why the police had advised him against renting gambling equipment.
"There's no license or permit required to rent gambling equipment. A permit is only required to use it for gambling," said License Commissioner James T. McDavitt.
But Cambridge Police Lieutenant Don Carney said that the city does not allow "one-night events because [gaming] tables are coming in from the outside."
"Any place that has gambling tables, people could be making side bets with real money, so there would be gambling going on, and we don't allow that," Carney said.
Carney yesterday refused to comment on McDavitt's statement that no license was required to rent tables if they were not going to be used for gambling. Nor would he comment on the reason for advising Epps not to rent gaming devices.
Massachusetts' definition of gambling includes three components, said McDavitt, and all three conditions must be met in order to pose a legal problem.
The definition states that one must pay something of value to play, chance has to predominate over skill, and one must be playing for the eventual gain of something valuable, McDavitt said.
The Quincy Casino Night organizers had planned to charge no admission and provide free play money, said Brian P. Murphy '86-'87, Quincy House committee social coordinator. The event was to have been open only to Quincy residents.
Quincy residents would then have used roulette wheels, craps and blackjack games to increase their supply of play money. The organizers had planned to sell raffle tickets for the play money, and hold a drawing at the end of the evening for prizes, Murphy said.
The casino event would not have met the "pay-something-of-value" qualification and therefore would not have been considered gambling, McDavitt said. "You've got to meet all three qualifications. If the play money or chip has no value, it's not gambling," he said.
"If the chips are really free, then there's no requirement to be licensed and no violation," McDavitt said.
McDavitt compared the Quincy event to theBoston Herald's Daily Wingo game. "You can winmillions totally by chance, but as long as theysay 'no purchase necessary,' you don't have to payanything of value to play, and it's not gambling."
The House Committee charged a few people $2 forall-day refreshments at both the band performancein the afternoon and the evening event, beforedropping the charge because of low attendance,said Sean P. McMullen '87, house committeesecretary.
This may have presented a problem had thecasino night been run, McDavitt said. "When peoplepaid for the beverages, were they really payingfor chips? The chips have to be really free," hesaid.
Glen D. Johnson, owner of the company that wasto have rented Quincy House the gaming equipment,said he has never had a cancellation for legalreasons.
"They're not renting gamblingequipment--they're renting me as an entertainmentservice," Johnson said. "I don't get a percentageor anything, I just get a flat fee.