Judge Rules That Poker is a Game of Skill

Published on August 22nd, 2012 11:41 pm EST

Poker Cards drawn in vector formatEarlier this week, Judge Jack B. Weinstein of the United States District Court Eastern District of New York issued a ruling that could have a big impact on the game of poker in the United States.

A little background first - Defendant Lawrence Dicristina was arrested and charged with running an illegal gambling business involving poker games in violation of the IGBA (Illegal Gambling Business Act). Dicristina was running some Texas Hold'em games out of a Staten Island warehouse and was taking a cut of the action. Dicristina used the rake to pay for waitresses and dealers, as well as to make some money for himself.

Dicristina initially pled guilty to operating an illegal gambling business involving poker games in violation of the IGBA. At his sentencing hearing, Dicristina withdrew his guilty plea, and a trial date was set.

A week before the trial was set to get underway, Dicristina and his lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the indictment based upon the contention that poker did not constitute gambling as defined by the Illegal Gambling Business Act. The decision on the motion to dismiss was reserved. Dicristina would eventually renew his motion twice more during the trial.

The jury convicted Dicristina of one count of operating an illegal gambling business involving poker games in violation of the IGBA, and one count of conspiring to do so. Dicristina was facing as much as 10 years in jail as a result of the conviction.

A few weeks after the jury delivered their verdict, Judge Weinstein ruled on the motion to dismiss.

In a 120-page decision, Judge Weinstein dismissed the indictment and set aside the jury's verdict. In his decision, Judge Weinstein said, amongst other things, that gambling is limited to games predominated by chance, and poker is a game that is predominated by skill. Because of this distinction, Judge Weinstein said that poker is not gambling as defined by the IGBA, which means that Dicristina is not guilty of violating the IGBA by running his Staten Island poker game. Judge Weinstein backed up his decision with ample data that helped prove his main point - that poker is a game of skill, not chance.


What impact will this ruling have on the game of poker in the United States? Will the US government appeal the ruling? If so, will the appeal prove to be successful?


Judge Weinstein is a highly respected judge who clearly put a great deal of thought and effort into his ruling - this will hopefully carry some weight going forward.

Source: NYTimes.com - Poker Is More a Game of Skill Than of Chance, a Judge Rules


Filed Under: Poker Legal Issues

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