South Carolina Court to Decide: Is Poker a Game of Skill?

Kentucky courts update, too

by , Dec 15, 2008 | 9:10 am

Poker is having its day in court, that’s for sure. One case getting press all over South Carolina comes from a busted $20 tourney being held in a private home — raided in 2006 by heavily armed police — where 5 of the 25 arrested have refused generous plea bargains and are trying to persuade a presumably non-poker jury that poker Texas Hold’em is indeed a game of skill. A judge has ruled that the defendants do indeed have the right to present witnesses and evidence to make to support this claim. A court date is expected to be set for later this winter.

More here ( and here (Up for Poker).

This is exactly how California became California, poker-wise — it took arguments about skill in the courts to pave the way for all the great poker there. I don’t know the details of the cases, but Mike Caro was one of the guys who testified, bringing charts and graphs to show statistics of specific games — hold’em, Stud, and 5-card Draw, I believe.

Meanwhile, also going on last week and drawing lots of non-poker attention (Lexington Herald-Leader, Business Week, … a Kentucky Court of Appeals will attempt to begin to start to decide: Does a single US state have the right to venture across its own borders to seize internet domains of businesses based in Costa Rica and run out of a protected Indian nation in Canada … and who will get to hold onto these domains while the courts figure it all out. The court will supposedly be making its decision in January, and judicial facial tells suggest poker is leading in this court 2-1.

You know, the evidence thing has me thinking … one of the hardest things for Kentucky to prove in their case will be that online gambling does actually hurt regulated Kentucky gambling interests. You don’t have to look much further than the WSOP to present actual numbers refuting this claim. So what evidence will Gov. Beshear and the state be able to present — they have the burden of proof, after all — that suggests the opposite? I don’t think it exists, at least nothing stronger than what the poker side could present.

One Comment to “South Carolina Court to Decide: Is Poker a Game of Skill? ”

  1. Marvin C

    Two Points. In the early 90s, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that poker and blackjack were games of skill and didn’t violate the state’s constitutional ban against games of chance. It took a constitutional ammendment to get slots.

    I can’t see the US Supreme Court allowing Kentucky to seize domain names. If they do, look for China to seize Google, Yahoo, and all the other profitable sites. At worst, Congress will pass a law outlawing this practice.