Hello, I am reaching out for advice today on how I could possibly have my voice heard and my business, at minimum, considered and given permission to operate by various townships throughout Massachusetts. This tends to be very complicated to explain however the services I provide are legal and are not uncommon and used throughout the world. I will try to make this as brief as possible
I own a lottery-free (no gambling) poker league in Massachusetts. We provide professional poker tables, custom chips, cards and trained tournament directors to operate poker tournaments at bars, restaurants, pubs, etc on an otherwise slow night. The service offers an entertainment similar to trivia and karaoke companies. We make our money by charging the restaurant a flat fee depending on the amount of tables used however the poker tournament itself is 100% free meaning we do not collect a fee, buy-in, etc. Players compete to win prizes without the concept of gambling.
Now on to where things get a little tricky. Because it is a form of live entertainment, it needs to be approved by each town or city that we operate in. This is rarely followed by any live entertainment company but we feel in doing things the right way. It can be found with the board of selectmen, licensing board, entertainment licensing, etc. Our main area of focus is Boston but we do plan on working our way outside the city as well. So it order to be approved by each town, we must first talk to the city, apply for an amendment or license (If necessary) and wait for a hearing. This can take upwards of 2 months since it takes around 2 to 3 weeks just for a board to look at the application then about another 2 to 3 weeks to figure out what exactly we do and then finally set a date for a meeting/hearing.
Because free poker is approved by the Mass Attorney General, the only reason our service would be denied by a town is because they somehow think it is gambling and/or do not want to allow something new. A lot of times the town secretary won't even listen past the words poker and hang up. We even had inspection departments come in a advise the bar owners that what we doing is illegal however we have yet to see any paperwork that states this. The issue I am having trouble with is the legality of my rights as a business owner to be heard. I have all the paperwork from Mass stating what I do is allowed and legal but these towns somehow wont allow me to operate without any reason besides their opinion. I have gone as far as to obtaining all regulations and ordinances and did not find anything even closely pertaining to what we do.
Is it possible to sue these towns?
any advice would be greatly appreciated.