Criminal Justice

Is Poker a Game of Skill that is Legal? S.C. Judge Will Decide


Five college buddies nabbed in a poker bust are asking a South Carolina judge to decide whether Texas Hold ‘em is an illegal game of chance or a permissible game of skill.

A South Carolina law bans ”any game with cards or dice” but state Attorney General Henry McMaster says his office interprets the statute to ban games that rely more on chance than skill, the Associated Press reports. And for years, the office has viewed Texas Hold ’em as an illegal game of chance.

Thirty-eight other states have laws that also bar games of chance, according to Colorado lawyer Chuck Humphrey. Some poker players are beginning to claim—with some success—that the laws don’t apply to them.

A Pennsylvania judge ruled Texas Hold ’em is a game of skill and acquitted a man who held poker games in his garage, according to CardPlayer.com. And a Colorado jury acquitted the organizer of a poker league after a University of Denver statistics professor testified poker is a game of skill, according to a press release by the Poker Players Alliance.

The alliance, based in Washington, D.C., relies on a national network of lawyers to serve as a legal brain trust, according to the AP story.

The South Carolina judge, Lawrence Duffy Jr., is scheduled to rule on Feb. 13, according to CardPlayer.com. Defense costs are being financed by a benefactor who wants to remain anonymous, according to one of the defendants, Bob Chimento.

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