Poker Ruled Game of Skill by NY Judge

A small poker case in the state of New York may have helped the online poker cause in the United States. Federal District Court Judge Jack Weinstein ruled just yesterday that poker is mainly a game of skill and not chance. The ruling was part of a case involving Lawrence Dicristina, a local businessman who ran a poker club in the state.

Dicristina ran a poker club in a back room of his electric bicycle warehouse and he would spread the word about his establishment via text and word of mouth. In the case, Dicristina was charged of being in violation of the Illegal Gambling Business Act. This Act is a federal law which was created in the 1970s to breakdown organized crime groups. The gambling list involved in the Act includes slot games; lotteries and bookmaking, which Dicristina’s lawyers stated were games of chance. They argued that poker is a game of skill and that would mean it is not covered by federal law.

Weinstein agreed and according to legal experts, the ruling undercuts a federal law which was used in the past to shut down online poker rooms in the United States. Weinstein commented: “In poker, increased proficiency boosts a player’s chance of winning and affects the outcome of individual hands as well as series of hands. Expert poker players draw on an array of talents, including facility with numbers, knowledge of human psychology, and powers of observation and deception.”

The judge released a 120 page opinion on the subject of poker and the report included graphs and charts to create a visual to show how players with such skills as bluffing can consistently defeat inexperienced players.

Dicristina’s lawyers also argued the point that the gambling games that are usually covered by federal law involve betting against games run by casinos, which is a manipulation of the odds of winning. In poker, players are betting against other players and not the house.

John Pappas, the Poker Players Alliance Executive Director, commented on the news by calling the ruling a ‘major victory for the game of poker and the millions of Americans who enjoy playing it.”

Pappas announced in a press release:  “As we worked for years defending players against vague gambling laws, we have patiently waited for the right opportunity to raise the issue in Federal court… Judge Weinstein’s thoughtful decision recognizes what we have consistently argued for years: poker is not a crime; it is a game of skill. As the judge’s opinion aptly notes, poker is an American pastime that is deeply embedded in the history and fabric of our nation and his decision sets aside the notion that the vague laws render the game criminal.”

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