It all began with a bust on the day before Thanksgiving 2018 in Butte, Mont. People were playing dice games at the Butte Country Club when police came in and stopped them. The authorities arrested several people, and the whole thing got pretty ugly in the local press. Most citizens felt arresting people for playing a dice game in a club room of a members-only club was ludicrous. The club also received a $2,000 fine.
Now, a state representative from Butte has sponsored a bill that will allow people to play dice games. The most prominent dice game, Cee-lo, is a very popular game. Legislators hope to get the bill signed into law in this legislative session. The bill would allow dice games, such as Cee-lo, in bars and other places where people can buy alcohol.
What is Cee-lo?
Cee-lo is a dice game played with three six-sided dice. Cee-lo actually originated in China and Chinese immigrants brought it with them to the United States. Many Asian cultures adopted Cee-lo as part of their gameplay. Cee-lo has seen much of its play in cities. However, the game has started to spread into more rural areas.
Cee-lo is a banking game. This means that players bet against the bank, who is another player. Often, people take turns being the banker. A player makes an initial bet, and the others choose whether to continue to raise or quit the game. Depending on the numbers rolled, the player can automatically win or lose. Players can also amass points for the numbers rolled. Usually, the player with the most points wins. However, if the game is winner take all, the player with the most points takes all the money. He or she would also become the banker. While there are variations of Cee-lo, the game is essentially the same. The numbers a person rolls determine the winner.
Why Cee-lo Matters
Many people in Montana have been playing Cee-lo for years privately. The consensus among Montana legislators is that people have the right to play games in private establishments. However, often people want to get together to play it. If they gather at a business to gamble and drink, the business could lose its liquor license. Loss of a liquor license means that the business can no longer sell alcohol. And, that means businesses will lose money. The dice legislation will mean businesses can allow people to play dice in their establishments.
Gambling in Montana and the Progress of the Bill
Montana has legalized some forms of gambling. Native American casinos operate in the state and offer some poker and video gaming terminals. People can also play bingo, keno, and table games. In addition, Montana has a lottery, which has pull-tabs and state/multistate lotteries. The state has placed a limit on how much people can bet per turn — $2 with an $800 payout.
The House has already passed the dice bill by an overwhelming margin. The Senate passed the bill by a slim margin earlier in March. The bill received bipartisan support in both houses. Legislators felt that people had the right to decide for themselves whether they wanted to play dice in an establishment. They saw the arrests last year as government overreach. Historically, Montanans routinely vote for less government. Now that the bill has passed both houses of the legislature, it will head to the governor soon. After the day of crossover has passed, the governor will get the bill to sign. The hope is that the state will allow Cee-lo anywhere that serves liquor by the time summer rolls around.
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