Editor's note (10-28-16): The University has decided to reinstate the bridge club so the article below no longer applies. It was mentioned that this thread was helpful in reaching this decision. Thanks to everyone in the BW community for their comments.
At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, we have a thriving bridge club (well, as thriving as a collegiate bridge club can be). Our competitive team competes regularly in the ACBL Collegiate Bridge Bowl. I even teach about 12 students about how to play the game. Unfortunately, earlier this week the university sent me an email informing me that they unregistered our club because bridge is a game of chance. This means we can't apply for student funding and can't schedule official meetings in university facilities. We can't even advertise to students at the annual "Fall Fest" where around 10,000 students congregate to learn about opportunities on campus.
To see the full email from the university, please advance to the next page.
Is bridge a game of chance? According to this 1962 case from the California Supreme Court, it isn't:
The key point of the ruling is:
"The details of the rules need not be repeated here; it is obvious that, although there is of course an element of chance resulting from the deal of the cards, there is a continually recurring necessity in the bidding and play of the hand to make decisions which, considered together, will ordinarily be determinative of the outcome of the game."
My hypothesis is that bridge club was identified after poker club applied (new this year)––that must have sparked an internal review of all clubs. We have previously registered as a valid student organization for 3 years.
BW community, how should I appeal my case here? Please read the correspondence before weighing in -- that's on the next page.
(All emphasis has been added by me.)
"Hi Benjamin. I hope you had a good fall break. I am writing in regard to the UNC-CH Bridge Club’s registration with the University. It has come to our attention that bridge is a game of chance. I am afraid that in NC there is a statute on the books that addresses games of chance: § 14-292. Gambling. Except as provided in Chapter 18C of the General Statutes or in Part 2 of this Article, any person or organization that operates any game of chance or any person who plays at or bets on any game of chance at which any money, property or other thing of value is bet, whether the same be in stake or not, shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. This section shall not apply to a person who plays at or bets on any lottery game being lawfully conducted in any state. (1891, c. 29; Rev., s. 3715; C.S., s. 4430; 1979, c. 893, s. 1; 1983, c. 896, s. 1; 1993, c. 539, s. 204; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 2005-344, s. 3(e).) University Legal has informed us that a strict interpretation of the current statute is that games of chance constitute gambling in violation of the statute, regardless of whether any items of value are at stake. This prevents us from registering any club based on a game of chance. The UNC-CH Bridge Club should never have been allowed to register at all. I cannot speak to why it was initially approved for registration, but can only assume that it is because the element of chance is often overlooked due to a focus on skill. However, as the element of chance present in the randomly dealt cards does cause the game to fall under games of chance, we must unregister the organization. I do understand that this may come as a shock to you and the group. I am sorry for any inconvenience this may cause, and I am happy to discuss in person if you like."
After a reply from me, which included a question about the legality of a hypothetical Go Fish Club, I received this pertinent response:
"Before I even contacted you, I actually did a lot of reading about it to understand more. I totally get the skill part, but that chance element is what causes the issue. We never want to have to unregister a group, and do not take such things lightly. But unfortunately this is now the position we are in, and given the chance aspect, we don’t have a choice. As to your question, it has been a long time since I played Go Fish, but indeed, if it involves the random dealing of cards, we could not register it. We will continue to monitor this topic and if something changes in the legislation that would lead to a legal interpretation that would allow us to do so, we would certainly register the group at that point."
Plus... it's free!