By Matt Kaufman, Rakeback.com Poker News Editor
A landmark pro-poker ruling was reached by Judge Jack Weinstein (pictured to the right) in Brooklyn, New York on Thursday.
While presiding over a case where a man faced Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA) charges for running an illegal poker club, Judge Weinstein decided to bring in experts to determine whether or not the IGBA applies to poker at all.
After the expert testimonies, Weinstein dismissed the verdict against the man and decided that poker is not gambling under federal law because it is a game of primarily skill. This is the first such ruling to exist in the United States.
Although this is a big step towards pro-poker legislation in the United States, you should realize that this ruling took place in a district court and will likely be appealed. Furthermore, other jurisdictions do not have to recognize it as precedent yet. If it is upheld in a higher court it will truly be cause for celebration.
The actual arguments which support poker as a game of skill in Judge Weinstein's memorandum are quite sophisticated and far more in-depth than any we've seen made in court before. Other than purely questioning the phrasing of the IGBA, he actually considers charts displaying the win rates of skilled and unskilled players under certain circumstances. He concludes that poker is a game where skill is more important than luck, and thus IGBA does not apply to it.
In the future, this ruling may help pave the way for a federal poker bill. With IGBA not applying to poker, it will be easier for a poker law to pass without contradicting any other existing legislation.
One last group of people that will be thrilled by this decision are the 5 men who are still facing IGBA charges from Black Friday. They will likely try and use this case as precedent to defend themselves, and perhaps the Department of Justice will drop the IGBA charges against them altogether. No one will get off the hook entirely, however, as several other charges against each man will remain unchanged.
You probably won't feel any immediate impact from this ruling, but American poker players may have just jumped over a major hurdle on the path towards online poker legislation.
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