New York Judge Rules Poker is Game of Skill
Jack Weinstein, a U.S. District Judge in New York, has ruled that poker involves more skill than chance. The ruling was the first time that a federal court has directly addressed poker’s status.
In the case of USA vs. Lawrence Dicristina, it was found that the defendant was not guilty of breaking federal gambling laws by running Texas Hold ‘Em games from his warehouse. In his ruling Weinstein said that poker isn’t “predominated by chance”, the legal definition normally applied to gambling.
Weinstein cited the testimony of Dr Randal Heeb, a partner at Bates White, saying that Heeb’s conclusions are “accurate and persuasive”. Dr Heeb is an expert in game theory and econometrics; he is also a successful poker player having won an event at the World Series of Poker. In his testimony he explained to the court the large number of complicated decisions made in poker and how a player’s consideration of these decisions created a variation in skill level between players. He said that this coupled with the fact that many players make a living playing poker and winning consistently distinguishes poker from other games which are predominated by chance.
The Poker Player’s Alliance described the ruling as “a major victory for the game of poker and the millions of Americans who enjoy playing it.” However, Weinstein’s ruling isn’t binding outside of his judicial district and can be appealed against. The executive assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William Muller, said that the Justice Department was reviewing the decision and considering what to do next.
However, it is definitely a positive step for online poker in the US. Many gambling law and industry experts have hailed it as another important step towards legalizing the game and introducing a fully regulated online market.