MUNCIE, Ind. – An Indiana senior center has stopped offering prizes like cookies and toilet paper in euchre card games in which residents paid a few dollars to play after state officials warned them the practice constituted gambling.
Judy Elton, director of the Delaware County Senior Citizens Center in Muncie, said the center stopped offering prizes after the Indiana Gaming Commission contacted her last week.
However, Gaming Commission Executive Director Sara Tait told The Star Press on Monday that her agency never had plans to take action against the games.
"Card games like these are very similar to developing a Final Four bracket or $5 poker night with friends," Tait said. "The Indiana Gaming Commission uses a common sense litmus test and did not, and never had, any plans to take enforcement action against this euchre club."
The agency, acting on a complaint, responded by sending "a form email with information about the kinds of licenses available. We distribute regularly such email information following the receipt of a complaint," Tait said.
The flap over the games even captured the attention of Republican Gov. Mike Pence.
When "Pence became aware of the situation in Muncie this morning, he directed the Indiana Gaming Commission to make sure it does not have any plans to shut down euchre card games at the Delaware County Senior Citizens Center or to take enforcement action against them. He has asked the Commission to review its procedures to ensure common sense prevails when reviewing complaints and concerns," spokeswoman Kara Brooks said in a statement Monday afternoon.
At the Muncie senior center, Eton said the euchres games have gone on without prizes.
"The seniors are outraged," Elton said Monday. "I've encouraged them to write their state representatives."
She and members of the center's board are concerned about the loss of revenue it received from about 50 euchre players. The center was given about $1 of the $2.50 fee collected by the euchre club, Elton said, adding that it usually pulls in about $30 for a three-hour session.
"We're not talking about a great deal of money here," she said.
Berylda Wilson, 88, has enjoyed playing euchre with her friends at the center for 15 years.
"We play five games and we have snacks, then play five more games," Wilson said. "Whoever has the high score gets to come up and pick a prize. We use the money to buy the prizes with and we buy sympathy cards or go out to dinner if there's money left. We all get our money back."