Last week we blogged about the ability to have Bingo games in our communities.  I may be wrong, but I have never seen Bingo games catch on among men.  Generally, Bingo is for the women, while the men like to play cards, more specifically poker and rummy.  My dad loved both and never once went to play bingo.  As far as he was concerned, “It was for girls.”


Another big game in my house growing up was Mah Jong.  When I was a child, every Tuesday night my mom would play.  Every 4th or 5th Tuesday my mom would be the host.  That meant one thing to me:  Lots of cookies and cake.  I also remember trying to fall asleep in my room over my mom’s friend’s yelling “4 bam” “2 crack” “Mah Jong.”  Occasionally the game would run very late, even when Johnny Carson was coming on at 11:30.  Great memories.

Most of us like some form of gambling as long as we stay within our means.  The laws in the State of Florida allow for friendly at home gambling where as long as the statute is complied with, the thinking is that nobody stands to get clobbered.  Here are the rules:


Florida Statute 849.085 states:

(2) As used in this section:

(a) ”Penny-ante game” means a game or series of games of poker, pinochle, bridge, rummy, canasta, hearts, dominoes, or mah-jongg in which the winnings of any player in a single round, hand, or game do not exceed $10 in value.

(b) ”Dwelling” means residential premises owned or rented by a participant in a penny-ante game and occupied by such participant or the common elements or common areas of a condominium, cooperative, residential subdivision, or mobile home park of which a participant in a penny-ante game is a unit owner, or the facilities of an organization which is tax-exempt under s. 501(c)(7) of the Internal Revenue Code. The term “dwelling” also includes a college dormitory room or the common recreational area of a college dormitory or a publicly owned community center owned by a municipality or county.

(3) A penny-ante game is subject to the following restrictions:

(a) The game must be conducted in a dwelling.

(b) A person may not receive any consideration or commission for allowing a penny-ante game to occur in his or her dwelling.

(c) A person may not directly or indirectly charge admission or any other fee for participation in the game.

(d) A person may not solicit participants by means of advertising in any form, advertise the time or place of any penny-ante game, or advertise the fact that he or she will be a participant in any penny-ante game.

(e) A penny-ante game may not be conducted in which any participant is under 18 years of age.

(4) A debt created or owed as a consequence of any penny-ante game is not legally enforceable.

(5) The conduct of any penny-ante game within the common elements or common area of a condominium, cooperative, residential subdivision, or mobile home park or the conduct of any penny-ante game within the dwelling of an eligible organization as defined in subsection (2) or within a publicly owned community center owned by a municipality or county creates no civil liability for damages arising from the penny-ante game on the part of a condominium association, cooperative association, a homeowner’s association as defined in s. 720.301, mobile home owner’s association, dwelling owner, or municipality or county or on the part of a unit owner who was not a participant in the game.

So there you have it.  Gambling is allowed in our condos and HOAs as long as the pots don’t exceed $10.00 and all of the other provisions listed above are followed.  A few years ago a few elderly women were investigated by their local Sheriff’s Office for running high stakes mah -jong games.  The allegations proved false.  But until they received the all clear from the cops, the condo board, unnerved by the police visit, immediately closed the clubhouse to all games where money might change hands.

I had these women on the Condo Craze Radio Show as guests.  They asked me to come up to Orlando to see the game for myself and when I got there, I would have brisket, kreplach and matzo-ball soup waiting for me when I got there.  To this day I regret not taking them up on their offer.

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