Busted! Poker games hit in two states

Anonymous Dealer

Two cases of people being prosecuted for setting up poker games have refocused attention on the legal issues surrounding the popular game.

In New Jersey, two cops pleaded guilty this week to gambling charges in relation to a poker club they'd opened in Dover in 2004. The poker club was open to the public at least once a week, which is a violation of state laws according to Newsday.

Sergeant Richard Winstock and Officer Thomas Juskus each pleaded guilty in the case, and prosecutors in return dropped official misconduct charges that were also pending against them.

Winstock pleaded guilty to promoting gambling and maintaining a gambling resort, and he faces up to a year in county jail. Juskus pleaded guilty to maintaining a gambling resort, and his charges will be dismissed after he completes three years' probation.

Halfway across the U.S., Gary Chatterton in Kansas is facing similar charges. He is accused of permitting his premises to be used for commercial gambling after a poker game was busted there.

According to the Joplin Globe, Chatterton had been distributing fliers advertising a poker game at his business, a barbershop. A police officer was given $20 to play in the game as part of an undercover sting.

The officer joined six or seven other people at Chatterton's business, where they were told the rules of the game and that 80% of the buy-in would be awarded as prizes, but Chatterton didn't say exactly how much was kept by the house.

The officer testified Wednesday in a court hearing on the case, after which the judge ruled that Chatterton would stand trial for the charges.

While playing poker is not illegal in and of itself, most states do have laws against public games or games where a rake is taken by the house.

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