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Gambling and the Law: Proving Poker is a Game of Skill31 March 2009
By I. Nelson Rose
How can we make poker legal?
The cleanest way is to get a statute passed through the state legislature.
In my book, GAMBLING AND THE LAW, I show how California became the draw poker capital of the world because the state enacted laws in the 19th century that outlawed specific games, like 21 and faro, but left draw poker off the list.
Of course, there still can be problems. When Florida lawmakers authorized commercial cardrooms, they initially put a ridiculous limit of $10 on the size of pots. And questions arose over what games qualify. I testified as an expert witness that one innovation, essentially a game where players get two cards and try to get closer to 21 without going over, was not poker.
Politically it has proven nearly impossible to get a poker bill through both houses of a state legislature and be signed by the governor. At the very least, the pro-poker faction would have to spend enormous amounts of time and money lobbying local lawmakers.
An easier route is litigation. If the highest court of a state declares that playing poker for money is legal, then it is. Even the U.S. Supreme Court can't overrule that decision, although the state legislature could put on restrictions.
There are presently a couple of cases working their way through court systems in the United States, and a few more than that in Europe. These aren't necessarily the perfect test cases, because lawyers often have to take the case their client has, rather than the one they would wish for.
But the stakes are so great that somebody is going to put together the right case. Here's what they should do:
1) Put together a team of lawyers and experts in advance, so that a test case will have the right combination of laws and facts.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I. Nelson Rose