Poker players seek jury trial in bid to change state law

A group of South Carolina poker players are seeking a jury trial to challenge both their arrest on gambling charges and a state law prohibiting poker games. The players were arrested in April when police raided a Texas Hold'em game at a private home in Mount Pleasant, S.C.

Eighteen of the original 22 players arrested entered not guilty pleas and asked for a jury trial. The remaining four pleaded guilty and were each ordered to pay a $100 fine.

According to, Robert Chimento, one of the players pleading not guilty, said the people who opted out of the crusade against the law were people from out-of-town who just wanted to put the episode behind them.

He said the core group left will still forge ahead to prove the state gambling law is the real villain in this case.

The law, which is more than 200 years old, bans games with cards or dice, and makes no distinction for games of skill or even children's games.

Prosecutor Ira Grossman said it's up to state lawmakers to determine whether the gambling laws need to be changed and, in the meantime, he will proceed with the case just like any other.

The case has attracted attention all across the nation, resulting in offers of support from the Poker Players Alliance and from a local radio host who is helping the South Carolina Organization of Poker Enthusiasts with a petition drive.

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