Judge Weinstein’s Ruling on Poker as ‘Game of Skill’ Could Spark Resurgence Online

Written by:
Gilbert Horowitz
Published on:
Aug/28/2012
Judge Weinstein’s Ruling on Poker as ‘Game of Skill’ Could Spark Resurgence Onli

Last week’s ruling by New York Supreme Court Judge Jack Weinstein that poker is a “game of skill” and not “one of chance” has many believing an online poker resurgence is on its way. So-called “games of chance” were previously prosecuted under a law used to eradicate organized crime. 

In making his decision, Judge Weinstein relied extensively on the findings of a defense expert who analyzed online poker games.

The ruling tossed out a jury's July conviction of a man from New Jersey, Lawrence Dicristina, who was charged with conspiring to operate an illegal underground poker club from within a Staten Island warehouse.  There was no evidence to suggest that organized crime had any involvement in the individual's business. 

Lock-Poker-062712AL.jpg

Nick Fedyk of the Hoya Newspaper writes

Legally speaking, gambling is a game “predominated by chance,” and while chance does play a role in poker, skill plays an even bigger role — and that makes all the difference. Some players get lucky sometimes, but no player can be lucky all the time. Professional poker players don’t make a living off luck: that’s just not possible. Have you ever heard of a professional roulette player? Or someone who is really good at playing slots? There is a reason the same players end up at the final tables of the World Series of Poker year after year: They are consistently better at the game than the rest of us.

Noted gaming attorney Maurice “Mac” VerStandig offered his take on the decision and its potential impact (or lack thereof) on the Internet poker sector as per an interview with PokerNews.com, also pointing out that Judge Weinstein is not some “newly minted cowboy judge looking for his day in the sun”, but rather a highly regarded man on the bench with “who has garnered immense respect during his career”.

Since the heart of the DiCristiana case is dedicated to a statistical analysis of poker being a game of skill, not chance, the inference becomes clear: the UIGEA may not encompass poker in as rigid and clear a manner as was once thought.

This is not to suggest that PokerStars will triumphantly return to the American marketplace next week, or that credit card companies will back off of their prohibitions on transfers of funds to those poker websites that do maintain a domestic presence. While Judge Weinstein’s opinion is important, and certainly sets an intriguing precedent, the issue of the UIGEA was not directly before him, so the impact of his findings are limited. The American legal system is built in large part on the idea that similar cases should be decided in a similar manner, but a doctrine known as “dicta” limits the abilities of a judge to decide an issue unless the defendant directly before that judge faces the issue directly. Accordingly, while Judge Weinstein’s opinion will be persuasive and important, it is unlikely to be the final word.

Still, the DiCristiana case may help to mold the final word on multiple fronts. Numerous states have gaming laws that, like the IGBA, define “gaming” or “gambling” without making specific reference to poker. Attorneys defending individuals prosecuted under these semi-ambiguous statutes will now be able to point to Judge Weinstein’s small dissertation on poker as a respectable legal authority.

- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com

Poker News

Tobey Maguire a ‘Royal Jerk at Poker Table’, Told Hostess to ‘Bark Like a Seal’

“Molly’s Game”, the new memoire from the so-called “Poker Princess” Molly Bloom, arrived in bookstores Thursday (June 12, 2014) and it’s not without its juicy tidbits blasting the likes of “Spider-Man” actor Tobey Maguire. 

Americas Cardroom Takes Crown With World’s Biggest Weekly Tourney

Look out, Americas Cardroom ushering in the New Year in a major, major way. We’re talking about a Sunday Major that’s bigger and better than what’s currently being offered to poker players around the world.

Doyle Brunson Said to be Doing Some ‘Serious Back Peddling’ in POTUS Bashing

Doyle Brunson Said to be Doing Some ‘Serious Back Peddling’ in POTUS Bashing

Once a big supporter of US President Donald Trump, poker legend Doyle Brunson has made it clear he’s not exactly thrilled with Trump since he’s been in office.  This sentiment was relayed in a tweet Thursday, making reference to this past Tuesday’s Alabama Senate race.

Jessica Chastain Receives Golden Globe Nomination for Molly’s Game Role

Jessica Chastain Receives Golden Globe Nomination for Molly’s Game Role

Jessica Chastain dazzled in a low cut blue gown at the Amsterdam premier of Molly’s Game, which could end up being the best poker film ever (until now it’s been Rounders).  Chastain was nominated the night before for a Golden Globe.

Engel Wins Second HPT Title and $162k

Engel Wins Second HPT Title and $162k

Poker pro also earns Player of the Year honors

Syndicate