Last week, a federal judge in Brooklyn overturned the indictment of a Staten Island man who ran poker games in the back room of a warehouse, on the grounds that poker is a game of skill, not chance — and hence, such games cannot be prosecuted under federal laws prohibiting illegal gambling businesses.
It’s just the latest sally in the ongoing debate over poker that’s been raging for more than 150 years. And it comes on the heels of a ruling last year by the Justice Department that 1962′s Wire Act applied only to sports betting, not poker. This is kind of ironic, since the Justice Department also shut down online poker in the spring of 2011, charging the men behind the three most popular online sites with fraud and money laundering.
Clearly, the issue is far from resolved, but John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Player’s Alliance, is encouraged by the latest ruling by Judge Jack B. Weinstein. “Today’s federal court ruling is a major victory for the game of poker and the millions of Americans who enjoy playing it,” he said in a statement. The alliance is dedicated to decriminalizing poker.