NY Federal Judge Declares Poker Game of Skill

law gavel

In a case of major significance for poker's long-term perception under US law, a New York Federal Judge declared poker a game of skill today.

Presiding over the case of Lawrence Dicristina, arrested and charged last year for running poker games out of a warehouse in Staten Island, Judge Jack Weinstein overturned the indictment and declared poker exempt from the Illegal Gambling Business Act.

Drawing up what one lawyer called  "the most thorough and detailed poker ruling he had seen by a U.S. court," Weinstein's 120-page report clearly distinguishes between poker and games of chance when it comes to the law.

"In poker increased proficiency boosts a player's chance of winning and affects the outcome of individual hands as well as a series of hands," the report says.

"Expert poker players draw on an array of talents, including facility with numbers, knowledge of human psychology, and powers of observation and deception."

Positive History of Poker in the US

Weinstein in particular drew on a recent study of 103 million Texas Hold'em hands that showed 75% of hands were won without showdown, proving the dominance of skill.

He also traced the varied and positive history of poker in the US to show its general perception in the eyes of Congress.

While Weinstein said federal prosecutors can still target underground games run by organized crime, and that individual states can still ban poker under their own laws, the ruling is expected to help clear the way for impending legalization of online poker in the US.

More on today's ruling from the New York Times here.

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