Saturday, January 9, 2016

Barry Dyngles

From Wikipedia: "The Texas Legislature meets in regular session on the second Tuesday in January of each odd-numbered year. The Texas Constitution limits the regular session to 140 calendar days."

Also: "As a sovereign country (2014), Texas would be the 12th largest economy in the world by GDP."

So, the 12th largest economy on the planet Earth, GDP $1.65 trillion bucks, which was a country for a minute before becoming one of the United States, is a state whose legislature only gets together for less than four months, every other year. The legislators are paid $7,200 bucks per year plus a per diem of $150 bucks a day when the legislature is in session. Not a very good way to make a living.

Texas is a very pleasant place to live, jobs are plentiful and Southern hospitality is alive and wellI. See, I lived there once, briefly. But it was long enough to discover that from May to September, no matter where you go in this state that seems to go on forever, it's hot enough to melt your brain. Otherwise, I'd be planning/hoping/scheming/praying to get my butt out of Ohio and parked in Tejas asap, rather than ensconced South of the Mason-Dixon, but still well north of Texas. The exact location must remain a secret. As you can well imagine, highly fortified secret mountain lairs are not only hard to find and keep secret, once the word gets out that someone is looking for one in the neighborhood, prices start going up.

Now, while Texas is a free market paradise compared to Ohio, which has a good deal to do with the vibrant state of its economy, the gubmint is not exactly short on rules and regulations. For example, lotteries are strictly forbidden -- except for the one run by the gubmint. Casinos are illegal -- except for the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino operated by the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, formerly known as the Texas Band of Traditional Kickapoo. The original band broke up when its frontman died from an overdose of Kickapoo Joy Juice.

Bingo and raffles are heavily regulated and restricted to non-profit organizations. You can bet on horsies (as my brother Mike would put it) running in circles. This is regulated by the state gubmint and has a democratic component to it as well. The voters in a given county must vote to approve a new race track.

And then we have game rooms, which feature machines remarkably similar to slot machines. They are legal only if they offer prizes that are worth less than five bucks, no cash permitted. However, the state legislature has not seen fit to update and/or clarify the relevant law in spite of the fact that there's a low-intensity war going on between entrepreneurs that open and operate very popular game rooms (that award cash prizes) and local law enforcement agencies. The operators are always on the lookout for novel legal justifications. Seems that they often reopen soon after being raided and the lawyers are making good money from all the lawsuits. I've been unable to discover if the legislature has not acted because the game rooms are popular and they wish to leave well enough alone and/or if the brief window of time they have to pass legislation causes them to prioritize any efforts to keep the citizens of Texas on the straight and narrow.

Wikipedia says that if Ohio was a country they would have the 25th largest economy on the planet, with a GDP of $526 billion bucks -- one-third the size of Texas. In Ohio, we who have the dubious advantage of a full-time legislature, have been spared the discomforts of gambling ambiguity. Our full-time legislature, whose members are paid $60,584 bucks per year, have seen to that. Like Texas, the gubmint has a lock on lotteries. As in Texas, we have horsies running in circles, a few casinos instead of just one, non-profit raffles and bingo. All heavily and carefully regulated.

We also have had game rooms. Unlike Texas, when these started popping up all over the place and employing various angles to get around modest prizes, no cash rules (to the delight of their patrons) our full-time legislators wasted no time in cranking out a law to erase any ambiguity and the hammer was brought down on the miscreants by local officials that stepped up to enforce the law. And get on the evening news.

Which brings us to the unfortunately named restaurant, Barry Dyngles Pub.

I've never been there though it's located not all that far from my secret lair. This fact doesn't imply either approval or disapproval. I've not been to many places of business, local or otherwise, and don't maintain a list of firms I've no intention of ever visiting. However, the establishment in question recently had what might be it's 15 minutes of fame. It ran a promotion, still does I assume, a game called, "The Queen of Hearts." It didn't invent the game, it can be purchased at businesses that supply such things to bingo halls and the like. I'll spare you the details other than to say that it has simple rules and a jackpot that can build up, over time, to a snifigant amount via the purchase of tickets, one dollar at a time. When the jackpot kept rolling over, and over, and reached $1.8 million before finally being won, it became a news story. The bottom line is that customers were coming out of the woodwork as the excitement ratcheted up. Success! More business than they could handle. Where we gonna' park all these cars? We're gonna' need help from the local cops! The sort of problems an entrepreneur dreams of having.

Wait a this even legal?

Yup. Turns out that if you pay for the supplies needed to run the game and don't make a dime off of it, the game that is, you're welcome to the money coming in from all those extra customers. A success story in the rustbelt! Even the gubmint got excited. They wasted no time in demonstrating their willingness to do whatever it takes to make Ohio the financial powerhouse it was before the collapse of the steel industry keep the citizens of the Buckeye State on the straight and narrow. Somehow, in spite of having four different entities keeping an eye on the four different forms of gambling allowed in Ohio (casinos, horse racing, charitable games and the Ohio lottery) nobody is officially in charge of making sure a local upscale barbecue joint ain't getting away with something.

Not to worry.

The state legislators ($60,584 yr.) that are members of the Joint Committee on Gaming and Wagering are looking into the matter. I think that the kerfuffle in question is best summed up by a quote from an article I found that was published by the paper of record of the Cambridge Ohio Micropolitan Statistical Area, population 40,876. I swear on my honor as a former cub scout, current blogger, your dilettante about town, and a man with 39 certifiable college credits that nothing in next paragraph is made up.

According to The Daily Jeffersonian, "The game has been deemed legal, though it is subject to regulation by the state's liquor control office" -- you can buy a beer at Barrys -- "inspector general and tax officials. County prosecutors also could pursue legal action, if they believe laws have been broken. Otherwise, there are no state requirements for the game."

Well, not yet.

Have an OK day.                                                                                  

©Mark Mehlmauer 2016

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