Charity poker still illegal, says Va. attorney

A Virginia attorney is threatening legal action if organizers of a popular charity poker tournament continue to host the Texas Hold'em event.

Tim Oksman, a lawyer for the municipality of Portsmouth, has written a letter to city council in which he calls the poker tournaments illegal and requests permission to ask organizers to end the event.

The Fraternal Order of Police in Virginia Charitable Foundation has been running the games since June out of a local bingo hall.

Players post a donation at the door and receive chips to compete in the tournament.

So far money raised - an estimated $80,000 - has been donated to the Portsmouth Catholic Elementary School and some of the foundation's other charitable causes, including scholarships and Christmas presents for children in the state.

"Several of us who have become familiar with this situation have concluded that the state FOP games are in fact gambling, even though they are honestly run and raise money for worthy causes," Oksman wrote in the letter, obtained by the Virginian-Pilot.

Oksman also said that after the charity games started, he received information that other less-reputable operators wanted to host their own poker tournaments.

Virginia law doesn't regulate charitable card tournaments, as they are considered illegal gambling. The law defines gambling as any bet made on something of which the outcome is uncertain for a chance to win money or prizes.

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