Defense Attorneys for Man Named in Full Tilt Poker Case Say Poker is not Gambling

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:

The defense attorneys for a Utah banker and businessman indicted as part of a probe into the online poker firm Full Tilt Poker are trying to convince a federal judge that playing poker on the Web is not a form of gambling. 

Lawyers filed their arguments in a Manhattan federal court on Friday and Monday in hopes of having charges against their clients John Campos and Chad Elie dismissed. 

The Government claims that both men facilitated illegal online gambling transactions for Full Tilt Poker, which is currently shut down.  Transactions were reportedly made to appear as if they were sales of dog food and golf balls. 

Elie’s lawyers cited the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, which places poker in the same category as bingo but not games of chances such as baccarat or blackjack.  They further pointed out that players have some control over the outcome of poker games.  Attorneys also noted that online poker companies charge a fee or “rake” in order to provide a venue for the game without actually participating in it. 

"The players compete against each other on a level playing field, using an array of talents and skill to prevail over their opponents," the lawyers wrote.

Court papers filed by lawyers for Campos argued the same point, saying the online poker companies were unfairly accused of engaging in the business of betting or wagering even though they had no stake in the outcome of the card games.

"The distinction between the poker companies in this case and websites that offer casino-style games and sports betting is stark. Online operators of casino-style games like roulette and slots are playing against their own patrons. Likewise, sports betting websites are also on the opposite side of their customers' bets. Those operators make profits from their customers' losses," the lawyers said. "The poker companies did not participate in the games, and had no risk or stake in the outcome of the games. Instead, the companies provided virtual facilities for the games, and collected, in exchange, a fee for each hand played."

- Chris Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

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