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U.S. Federal Judge Rules Poker Isn't Gambling

Law, 2012-08-21, by Ozone

The game of poker scored a victory today in its long, murky battle for legal legitimacy in the United States.

Federal judge Jack Weinstein of the United States District Court Eastern District of New York today set a Staten Island man convicted of running an illegal poker game free.

Lawrence DiCristina was convicted by a federal jury under a 1955 law called the Illegal Gambling Business Act. DiCristina appealed the conviction claiming that poker isn't gambling. In his ruling, Judge Weinstein agreed with DiCristina saying that the law only applies to games of gambling and not games of skill, like poker.

DiCristina becomes a free man following Judge Weinstein's decision.

The full text of Weinstein's decision includes the following, "Neither the text of the IGBA nor its legislative history demonstrate that Congress designed the statute to cover all state gambling offenses. Nor does the definition of "gambling" include games, such as poker, which are predominated by skill. The rule of lenity compels a narrow reading of the IGBA, and dismissal of defendant's conviction."

This ruling could lend momentum to various state-level efforts to legalize poker in the U.S. States which may have previously been on the fence regarding how they feel about poker's legality in the eyes of the federal government may view this ruling as a green-light to permit poker operations in their state.

The struggle for legal poker in the U.S. still has a long ways to go, but Judge Weinstein's decision is a step in the right direction and reason to maintain faith that eventually poker will be legalized and regulated in the U.S.

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