PPA Applauds Federal Court Ruling that Poker is a Game of Skill and NotIllegal Gambling
Washington, DC (August 21, 2012)
–The Poker Players Alliance(PPA), the leading poker
grassroots advocacy group with more than one million members nationwide, today lauded a federalcourt’s ruling that poker is a game of skill and is not illegal gambling under the Illegal GamblingBusinesses Act (IGBA).The decision of Judge Jack Weinstein of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York is the first federal court decision on whether poker is a game of skill rather thangambling. The court resoundingly ruled it a game of skill. The ruling stated that, “Neither the textof the IGBA nor its legislative history demonstrate that Congress designed the statute to cover allstate gambling offenses. Nor does the definition of ‘gambling’ include games, such as poker,which are predominated by skill.”“As we worked for years defending players against vague gambling laws, we have patiently waitedfor the right opportunity to raise the issue in federal court. Today’s federal court ruling is a major victory for the game of poker and the millions of Americans who enjoy playing it,” said JohnPappas, executive director of the PPA. “Judge Weinstein’s thoughtful decision recognizes what wehave consistently argued for years: poker is not a crime, it is a game of skill. As the judge’sopinion aptly notes, poker is an American pastime that is deeply embedded in the history andfabric of our nation and his decision sets aside the notion that the vague laws render the gamecriminal.”PPA played a central role in the case. In coordination with the defendant’s lawyer, PPA providedthe arguments and briefs and extensive expert testimony. Lawyers representing the PPA wrote the principal briefs and presented the principal oral arguments. Judge Weinstein’s opinion reliedheavily upon the information the PPA provided the court.“Judge Weinstein gave the government an opportunity to prove that poker was a game of predominant chance, but even federal prosecutors could not provide an expert of any kind thatcould conclude that chance predominates over skill in poker. We could not be more pleased withthe outcome of today’s decision,” continued Pappas.In addition, Judge Weinstein relied substantially on the absence of clear guidance in federal law onthe question whether poker is illegal gambling. The decision therefore reinforces that now is thetime for Congress to enact a fair and reasonable regulatory model that protects players andgenerates tax revenues. The PPA continues to work towards that end.For a copy of the U.S. vs. DiCristina case ruling and PPA’s initial amicus brief, please click here.