The Rosa Parks of Poker?

by , Jan 19, 2008 | 7:17 am

Poker books

Photo: Nick Oza / The Arizona Republic

Harold Lee may seem like a bit of a whack-job, but the retired Arizona judge is standing up for poker — beckoning authorities to take him to jail/court for running a legally questionable poker room. He’s convinced a jury won’t convict, and is ready to put to them the question of whether or not poker really is illegal in Arizona, the AZ Republic reports.

Now I know what you’re thinking … wait, don’t they have Indian casinos in AZ? And indeed they do … but he’s got a problem with that, too, claiming it to be an illegal state-granted monopoly. Interesting way to look at it. You can read more about Judge Lee’s Arizona Card Room in Sierra Vista and his poker manifesto here.

The commenters (and the raters of the commenters) overwhelmingly support the crazy-ole judge. And apparently the entire city of Tombstone is behind him and wants to follow suit. (Watch the news vid.) Despite what the state has to say … the city has looked through it’s law books and can’t find anything that says poker is illegal and they’re good with that.

3 Comments to “The Rosa Parks of Poker?”

  1. 85nutz

    Hey, I wonder if this idea would work for the Dallas area. It looks like from the site the person who has the button pays a $2 fee and that’s what goes to the house for expenses and such, no actual ‘rake’. Sounds like it might actually be a loophole or work around. What I don’t know is how similar the Texas and Arizona laws are on the matter. I’ll leave that to the experts (mmmmmm Dan?) to find out if you so choose.

  2. Harold Lee

    I thank you for the association with Rosa Parks; I must humbly reject the comparisons. However, I feel that the “crazy ole judge” title fits much better.

    There is a proclaimation on explaining why the ACL/ACR System is legal in Arizona and I think it might apply in many other states as well.

    Here is apress release that will be going out on Tues:

    *********PRESS RELEASE********PRESS RELEASE************

    For release Wednesday April 2, 2008 Tombstone, AZ

    From: Arizona Card League “the voice of professional card players in Arizona”

    This Press Release has become necessary since the Arizona Republic newspaper article on January 18, 2008 (Retired judge betting that his poker room is legal) has caused much confusion all over the country, and thrown a cloud over the legality of the ACL/ACR System. It should be removed with the announcement today of a Statewide Poker Championship to be conducted on May 10th in Sierra Vista, Arizona.

    Judge Lee’s Arizona Card Room, of Sierra Vista, remains open and will host the first Arizona State Hold’em Championship ever played within the jurisdiction of the State. It will take place on Saturday May 10, in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The new license holder, Mr. Mike Rose, has agreed to offer his facility free of charge at the rear of 164 Fry Blvd, as well as provide dealers for the ACL event. The seating for the tournament will be limited to fifty-four players. The ACL sponsored event will be a benefit for Sierra Vista Parks and Leisure, to encourage the building of an adult amusement center and recreation hall Two-thirds of the $150 tournament fee will go to City Parks and Leisure Department, while the remaining fifty dollars will go to the non profit ACL. The ACL has vowed to donate two-thirds of all tournament fees collect in Sierra Vista to the City, until a fully funded recreation hall has been built or approved by the City. The buy-in has been lowered to $500 and when full the tournament will have a $27,000.00 prize pool. And the Sierra Vista Parks will have a $5400 donation for the recreation hall fund.

    Many poker players and fans, from all over the country, have been mistakenly assuming that the Arizona Attorney General intended to prosecute the ACL/ACR System for promoting gambling. That is not what Mr. Goddard is reported to have said in the article. The reported response from the Attorney General was to the effect that he was going to reconsider their previous position of declining prosecution. A decision that they maintained was due to a lack of resources in their department. We feel that in light of the thousands of small, unregulated back room games being conducted every night in the State; a lack of resources is certainly one good reason to refrain from proceeding into an uncertain legal entanglement. It would likely become a legal foray that few people really want, and still fewer would see as good public policy. And, we feel confidante that a victory for the Poker industry will be the ultimate outcome of any such endeavor.

    Another good reason might be; that a game as popular as adult poker, should not be shackled with misinterpreted law and misplaced enforcement processes. Realistically and rightfully, the state government has neither the authority, nor the ability, to control adults playing this worldwide beloved game of Poker. It is long past the time that government stopped harassing this highly popular game; and began to assist the professional poker industry in establishing professionally sanctioned rooms and arenas. We have a right to protect our industry, profession, players, and fans from the annoyance and nuisances that attend all major competitions; regardless of the sport. Poker wants the State to use its power to insure a level playing field for the enormously popular game. The ACL and the PPA are preparing to offer legislation to protect the game and the industry in Arizona. We would like this legislation to become a model that the Poker Industry can utilize in many other jurisdictions, to free poker of these draconian, passé laws.

    Public policy in our State, has on occasion, been inappropriately applied with respect to the legal game of poker. This misapplication of policy has been very harmful to the professional poker industry in Arizona. It has forced our indisputably legal game; to conduct its lawful business in garages, and back rooms, where scoundrels and cheats can ply their nefarious skills with impunity; free from the watchful eye of the State, or the industry. This misapplied policy of prohibiting the lawful game of cash poker from having public rooms and arenas, where we can shine cameras on the game, has also forced an association with gambling casinos.

    The integrity of the game has suffered from the association. The game has begun to acquire the bad habits of casino gaming operations; raking from the bettor’s pool, and side betting, are two of the more obvious examples. The Poker industry does not need the casinos; the casinos need the poker rooms. They use the Poker room like a show room, or bedroom, to draw people into the casino. The poker industry must be allowed to have our own facilities where we can regulate, control, and protect the integrity of our game. Our tens of millions of fans and players around the world should expect nothing less form the industry, and from their government leadership. We feel that the State can and should assist the industry in providing a level playing field for the lawful game of Poker.

    For instance, the Arizona Card League believes the law that prohibits a rake from the betting pool is good public policy. We believe the industry should ban this practice, which has an affect on pot odds. The ACL does not allow such conduct in any of our clubhouses or card rooms. The Arizona Card League holds to a belief that the poker industry in Arizona (as well as around the world) should publicly and more vigorously reject the insults, and aspersions cast upon our game and profession. We can see no reason (or benefit) in being tolerant of the misguided attempts to include poker among the pure chance gambling games provided by both the State (and their monopolistic partner AIG casinos). Poker is not chance gambling anymore than any other strategic competition. Most decisions we make in life involve a gamble or a risk. Poker has made the decision making process, of calculating risk, a skilled competitive event for adults.

    The ACL will no longer suffer in silence as these misunderstandings and unfair associations continue to plaque our lawful game. We challenge the PPA, the WPT and the professional poker industry, to join us in Arizona. We know that the battle here is nearly over, but the war rages on around the country. With the help of Poker players everywhere, we will march from state to state; freeing the legal game of poker from all prohibitions. We will continue helping our industry grow, and develop like all other competitive sports have been allowed to do. The ACL is attempting to provide a path for the poker industry to follow; in order to gain control and regulate our international game.

    The ACL is anticipating that the national and international industry leaders like the PPA, WPT, PokerStars and the numerous millionaires that have reaped huge rewards from the game will come into the trenches and help us stand our ground. We challenge them to help us protect the local game from the misguided and uninformed forces that would see Poker continue to carry the misnomer of chance gambling. We ask that they invest as much time and resources in fighting for the right to control and organize the local industry, as they do for the online poker industry. We invite the PPA leadership and their members, Team PokerStars, WPT, US Poker Federation; to join the ACL in a victory celebration for the professional poker industry. Help the City of Sierra Vista build a recreation center where we can play benefit tournaments and showcase pokers ability to shoulder responsibility within the community.

    In their process of reconsidering, we sincerely hope that the AG’s office has discovered, what we have maintained from our formation; that professional Poker has grown into a worldwide bona fide business, and industry. Poker is the singular most popular card game in the world today. The Poker Player Alliance reports that eighty-million Americans enjoy the game of poker, while many more millions enjoy playing online all around the world. Poker has become the third most viewed competitive sporting event on television. A professional poker match is a strategic, highly skilled, competitive event; and it is recognized as such worldwide—it shares very little resemblance to pure chance gambling. The best hand does not win in Poker—the best played hand wins.

    Upon crafting the Arizona Revised Statues, the State legislature had ample opportunity to prohibit professional poker and designate it as criminal conduct. They clearly chose to not make Poker illegal conduct; in fact, they specifically and intentionally excluded the game from criminal conduct by creating a social gambling exclusion. Since the adoption of the Arizona gambling law; Poker has grown dramatically to become recognized around the world as a bono fide business, whose transactions are exempted from the gambling statue by definition. We are looking for a few leaders and some courageous poker players to come to Sierra Vista, Arizona in May and help us establish the legality of professional poker in Arizona once and for all.

    The Arizona Card League “The voice of the professional card player in Arizona.”

    Harold Lee

    Card Players!

    You cannot be arrested for playing cash poker in Arizona—anyone who claims different is incorrect, and does not know Arizona law. Adults have a statutory right to play cash poker in Arizona. Their actions are clearly protected by written law.
    Help Us Make History—
    Play in the Inaugural ACL State Hold’em Championship!

    Join the Arizona Card League and help us return to Arizona its heritage and rightful place as an ancestral home to high-stakes Poker. Play in the first Arizona State NO-LIMIT HOLD’EM Championship ever played within the dominion of the State. The tournament will be held at Judge Lee’s Arizona Card Room of Sierra Vista. The tentative date is Saturday May 10, 2008. The buy-in will be $500+150 ACL fee ($100 of the fee will go to the Sierra Vista Parks and Leisure Rec Fund). We intend to demonstrate that the lawful game of Poker is as capable as any other sport in assisting with community service projects. Seats are limited to 54 at this time.

    To reserve a seat contact Harold:
    (520) 226-0536

  3. DanM

    ***I thank you for the association with Rosa Parks; I must humbly reject the comparisons. However, I feel that the “crazy ole judge” title fits much better.***

    I called you “a bit of a whack job,” too, Judge; does that work?