Pennsylvania Tourney Organizer Found Guilty of Gambling

“Game of Skill” defense doesn’t hold up

by , Aug 14, 2009 | 10:08 am

Lawrence Burns, 65, was found guilty of gambling yesterday, despite arguments the real-money tournaments he organized were not gambling because poker is a game of skill. After 2 1/2 days of testimony, the Westmoreland jury took less than 2 1/2 hours to return a verdict.

Though a judge will determine Burns’ sentence, the prosecutor has said he does not believe the offense merits jail time. Burns plans to appeal the court’s ruling.

Regardless of these semi-bummer results, we should probably all take note: while it’s not too hard to convince non-poker people that poker is different from slot machines, lotteries, craps, etc. — and we might even convince them that Texas Hold’em tournaments are as skillful endeavors as fishing tournaments (where the pros generally win, but an amateur can always get lucky) — we’re always gonna have a really hard time persuading them to believe that poker isn’t gambling, game of skill or not. Sucks, but oh well … now we don’t need to hide all the players that like to say things like “gamble gamble!” when all-in on a draw.

(Thanks Marvin-in-Bedford for the heads-up.)

One Comment to “Pennsylvania Tourney Organizer Found Guilty of Gambling”

  1. lavigneinaustin

    I’m not an attorney and I haven’t read the pennsylvania statutes that closely but I believe there may be an important point to be made here-

    The defense argument here was that poker is a game of skill and therefore not gambling. (at least the press accounts I’ve read read that way) Most of the fight for legal safe poker (at least here in Texas) is based on the idea that poker is a game of skill not because that doesn’t mean its gambling, but because gambling on games of skill is more acceptable under the law.