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Question - Are money leagues illegal in Pennsylvania?
- APA and Money league counsel issue statements
Question - 3 of the top 5 finishers in the APA nationals in Vegas where from the Chicago and suburbs area.  Does this say anything about the handicap system used by the APA?  Do league operators have more say in the handicaps than the APA claims?
Question - What will happen to the men's pro tour if Camel has to give up sponsorship?

Are money leagues illegal in Pennsylvania?
The following letters where issued by the APA and the Chief Counsel for the Pot'o'Gold league when the issue of money leagues in Pennsylvania came up last year.  The question is "are money leagues legal in Pennsylvania?"  The controversy surrounding this question is hurting league expansion in our area.  The sad part is that the players ultimately suffer. Players should be able to check out different leagues and make a decision as to which is better for them. Monopoly's are not good in any industry, our country is built on competition and in the world of billiard leagues should be no different! 

The Mid-Atlantic Billiard Network is reproducing these letters for viewer consumption only. We are not issuing an opinion and are not responsible for the statements made in the following letters.
The following letter is a reprint of the one sent to bar owners by APA league operator Mike Boyle, in response to new leagues that will give the APA competition in our region. The letter below is a response letter issued by the chief counsel from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to the counsel for the Pot'o'Gold leagues.  We are posting this because it effects all money leagues, not just the Pot'o'gold.

Dear Host Locations Owners and Managers;

The American Poolplayers Association has been organizing and managing amateur pool leagues in the area for over 10 years.  During this time we have established and maintained an excellent reputation with our host locations, based on the fact that the pool leagues are beneficial to both of us. We have made every effort not to do anything which would violate any PLCB rules, regulations, or policies, thus jeopardizing our relationship, and/or your relationship and possibly your livelihood with the PLCB.

One of the PLCB guidelines states that any league (darts, pool, shuffle, horseshoes, etc.) playing weekly league matches in a licensed establishment which returns any form of monetary payback of funds collected is considered gambling. These are classified as "Money Leagues". The people promoting these leagues would not be penalized by the PLCB, only the locations that are hosting the teams. If the State of Pennsylvania approved "Money Leagues", the APA would offer them ourselves.

It has come to our attention that some of these promoters of "money leagues" are justifying their legality by calling their league a tournament, which under certain conditions, is legal. The truth is, they are running a weekly league, not a tournament. According to the State Attorney Generals Office and the PLCB, each match scheduled in you establishment, played or not, becomes a violation of the PLCB and State of Pennsylvania statutes. Advertising or allowing an advertisement to be posted in your establishment that advertises a Money League is a violation. The owners of the locations are liable for all penalties for any violation.

Our concern is that if your establishment is adversely affected by this misleading information, than the APA Pool Leagues (Camel Pool League, APA Handicapped 9-ball League) will be adversely affected. We are not concerned with competition from other pool leagues; many leagues have been operating for years. We would like to know that all leagues, established and new, operating in this state are playing by the same guidelines and not exposing you, the host location to by violations of PLCB or State statues.

If any establishments are caught in violation of these guidelines, then all pool leagues, whether involved or not, become suspect, which causes many clubs and taverns to just do away with all leagues.

Our office will continue to operate our leagues within the guidelines of the PLCB. We will not ask you or your establishment to do anything that would place your PLCB license or your livelihood in jeopardy.

Michael Boyle

Dear Mr. St. Tierre, ESQ.(counsel for Pot'o'Gold):
This is in response to your letter, seeding an opinion as to the legality of the Pot'o'Gold money pool leagues being conducted on licensed establishments in Pennsylvania.

Liquor code section 211.1 empowers the board or it's counsel to issue opinions to licensees. Inasmuch as you are not a licensee, the board cannot issue a legal opinion which is binding on the Pennsylvania State Police, bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement. However, the following comments are offered by way of guidance.

From the information supplied to this office, it appears that the Pot'o'Gold money leagues provide a framework whereby individuals may participate through teams in a league situation; membership dues and weekly team dues are collected. Prize money which can amount up to $10,000 is awarded directly to winners from Pot'o'Gold. The licensed host establishments have no financial involvement of responsibility for collecting any dues. Prize monies are handled through the corporate Pot'o'Gold office with no cash prizes being paid at the host location.

Liquor regulation 5.32 provides that hotel, restaurant, club or malt beverage eating place licensees may permit the conduct of event on licensed premises by leagues. [40 PA. code $ 5.32 (e3) (3)]. However, there may not be any unlawful gambling directly or indirectly associated with the league activity. Whether the activity in question constitutes unlawful gambling, is a question which the board cannot address. Moreover, there may be no passage of prize monies between the licensee and the league participants.

Based upon the materials submitted to this office, there would appear to be no legal impediment to conducting the Pot'o'Gold money pool leagues on licensed premises.

Very truly yours,
Francis X. O'Brien, Jr.
Chief Counsel, PLCB

The PLCB can be reached at 1-717-783-9454
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Concerning sandbagging in the Association for Pool
Don't beleive that sandbagging isn't going on in the Association for POOL.
It is rampant in Maryland and Virginia right now, mostly in anticipation of the Valley Forge event. There are players with APA handicaps of 6 and 7 playing as 3's and 4's in the association. The Association has had a long history of trouble with sandbaggers. The league owners keep saying that it will work out in the end or that there is nothing they can do about it but the teams with sandbaggers keep winning money at Titleholders and at Valley Forge. I've decided that I'll join the ranks of the sandbaggers only because that's the only way to win now.

Comment in response to APA, Bob Piazza comments listed below in sandbagging
In response to the comments made about Bob Piazza l.o. of Phila.& Chester County for APA Bob is just as interested in having teams split up by maxing out handicaps on teams as Mike Boyle and he has said so to players who call to inquire about the reasons as to why handicaps go up so much. Why do you think he has such team growth in the areas that he owns. Knowing Bob personally he's a nice person but his isn't the only game in town anymore. Great handicap leagues to play in these areas are the association for pool in chester county where if you sandbag you hurt your team because you have to finish 1st in your division to win the division not getting knocked out of the race in the playoffs by a wild card team who has been dumping all session just to keep his handicap low. In this format you must play all out to be qualified for their end of session tournament "TITLEHOLDERS" which incidentally is played for a cash prize fund of at least 10,500. The 2nd place team in each division also is qualified for this tournament (INSTANTLY) just for finishing 2nd. the only playoff is for the 3rd place spot in the tournament which is for 3rd place money. In this "TITLEHOLDERS" tourney all you have to do is win in one bracket of 16 teams (thats 3 wins & your in the money for your bracket. 1st place bracket is worth 6,000 . $4000 for the winner & $2000 for the runner-up 2nd place bracket is worth $3,000. $2,000 for winner & $1,000 for the runner-up. 3rd place bracket is worth $1,500 . $1,000 for winner & $500 for the runner-up. There is also a losers bracket worth at least $1500. The 4 best things about this league (as I see ) are as follows 1st. Tournament at the end of EACH SESSION 2nd. during TITLEHOLDERS your handicaps DO NOT get updated (if you go down as a 4 you stay a 4 for the duration) 3rd. Handicap limit is 25 gives you a bit more to keep your team together longer. 4th. League operator can't play god with the handicaps all handicaps are calculated at the main office.

From an anonymous surfer, clearly in Montgomery or Bucks county. 11/1/98
(note from the editor: Please don't shout in all caps like this reader.  We appreciate your comments but shouting is unnecessary)

RJR sponsorship problems
From John McNulty, Philadelphia - Submitted September 98
Billiards, needs non-billiard industry sponsors.  RJR new there was a potential problem with all of the law suits pending yet the men have not been able to pick up new or additional sponsorship in part because they continue to argue amongst themselves.   Why would any company want to put out the bucks to sponsor a sport that appears to be in such disarray?  One would think that with billiards getting a lot more exposure via the Olympic's, that any disagreements between the men of professional billiards, would be kept behind closed doors for the good of the sport.  The men pro's should be ashamed of themselves!
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An observation from a visitor to the site
I was recently a member of a team out of NY Long Island to play in the vegas amatuer championships. On the last day of play there were about 20 teams playing on 100 tables, We had played from 7am straight through the day. the match that killed us came down to the wire. We were 2 and 2 and we had a good 3 left to play against their 5 but as she broke the ref came over and called for sudden death. I can't imagine why we would need to play it sudden death when there were no teams waiting and the extra 15 or 20 mins would not have affected any other teams. The sudden death rule is a major quirk in the tournament. maybe in a situation like that where time is of the essence the handicap should change to atleast make it fair to both teams. In our situation ,our 3 had little or no chance of winning 1 game the FIRST game against a five with the pressure of knowing that that is the only game she will play. We were also told that several teams who have been to vegas more than once were very familiar with the sudden death rule and therefore slowed their play in the first matches to kill time . This WAS the case against us. We played strong and it was one of the greatest things I have ever been a part of and plan to be back next year but I really think the APA knowing that this is an amatuer event rethink a fair solution to the sudden death rule. Thank You ...APA Suffolk county NY

Concerning sandbagging in the APA
From an anonymous surfer location unknown, 10/30/98
I recently played in an APA regional tournament and saw the types of blatant sandbagging that have been mentioned. I have been playing APA 8-ball for over a year now and am ranked a 4 (dropped from a 5). I faced a player that was ranked a "3" that ran the rack in one turn in his first game and ended in 2 innings in the second to win the match. In checking his membership number, he had a number much lower than one of our players that had been playing for 10 years. I find it difficult to believe that someone playing for that long couldn't be raised above a 3.

Concerning APA handicap and Las Vegas results
From an anonymous surfer in Chester County, Pa - September 98
I'm not surprised by the APA results in Vegas, IE: the top finishers.  It is clear to most players in our division that local APA officials have too much influence on the handicap system.  There are known sandbaggers on a division rep's team while other players, that will be weak at a higher level, are bumped up in order not to be able to beat the rep's team.  In the end, it seems to hurt us nationally.  There will always be a way to beat any handicapping system, it would just be nice if the division rep's and handicap committee people had less to gain by bumping up players in order to increase their [the division rep's and handicap committee people] odd's of winning.
Another response from an anonymous surfer in Bucks county - Oct. 98
I agree, some players stay the same and others get moved up. The players who stay the same should be moved up. For example myself playing at less 50% playing a player at 100% but has not moved up
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