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U.S. Supreme Court Considering Federal Ruling On Home Poker Games

Court Will Decide Friday Whether Or Not To Hear Case


Lawrence DiCristinaThe legalities of hosting a poker game are currently determined by the individual state, but the U.S. Supreme Court may soon take on the issue to determine whether or not a game of cards is a violation of federal laws.

In 2011, Lawrence DiCristina was arrested, charged and convicted of running an illegal gambling business and faced up to 10 years in prison for spreading a poker game in a New York warehouse while taking a 5 percent rake.

The Justice Department argued that DiCristina was in violation of the Illegal Gambling Business Act, a federal law. However, Judge Jack B. Weinstein, overturned the conviction and agreed with DiCristina’s argument that poker is more of a game of skill than chance, making the law inapplicable.

A year later, a federal court of appeals overturned Weinstein’s ruling, handing down a judgment of conviction.

Now, with the help of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) and poker pros such as Mike Sexton, James McManus and Greg Raymer, the DiCristina case may be heard in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court will review the petition and decide on Friday whether or not to weigh in on the issue. If the court decides to take the case, poker’s luck vs. skill debate will rage on in the highest federal court in the United States.



over 8 years ago

The PPA has got to stop hanging its hat on the whole "skill vs. luck" argument. Blackjack can also be considered skill game, there is a basic strategy as its called, and knowing exactly when to double down, split, hit and stand could all be considered knowledge of a skilled player.

I don't think the "skill vs. luck" argument is going to hold much water. In virtually all forms of gambling, there are more skilled ways to play. We've all seen the clueless blackjack player just dumping his money into the tray.

I think the PPA has a better chance pursuing the argument of "house game vs. non-house game". In other words, virtually all forms of casino gambling are against the "house", whereas poker is against the other players, with the house taking a fee for spreading the game, but no one is playing "against the house". That seems more like a winning argument to me than "skill vs. luck" they've been espousing for years.


over 8 years ago

More likely than not the Supreme Court will not hear the case.

Even if the court does hear the case then the 5% rake will be the crucial factor against the defendant and not that the game was poker versus craps or balckjack or roulette.