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Wyoming Considers Revising Poker Laws

Legislators Seek to Clarify Social Poker Exemption


Wyoming is the latest state considering changes to its poker laws.“Bona fide” is a phrase that has been causing a lot of legal controversy in the poker world.

In 2008, five Colorado poker players had their cases dropped without prejudice when the district attorney failed to convince a jury that poker wasn’t a “bona fide contest of skill,” something state law exempts from its gambling clauses.

Now, in Wyoming, state legislators are analyzing their poker legislation and are wondering if they really need to require that all members in a card game have a “bona fide social relationship,” as mandated under state law.

“It doesn’t seem like there’s anybody that has a real grasp as to what does ‘bona fide social relationship’ mean,” said Tom Montoya, the chief of enforcement at the Wyoming Liquor Division.

In Wyoming, it is legal for bars and restaurants to hold poker games as long as the house doesn’t directly profit from it and as long as it means the ‘bona fide social relationship’ requirement. But state legislators are acknowledging that the term is so vague that it is almost impossible to enforce, and now they are considering scrapping the language altogether.

The result of this dialogue is unlikely to usher in any dramatic changes to the poker scene in the state, as legislators still want to make sure any new law doesn’t allow for the creation of additional for-profit poker rooms across the state. However, it could meet that Wyoming poker players no longer need to be wary that they’re breaking the law if a person who they don’t know all that well sits down at their table.

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