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Another Judge Deems Poker a Game of Skill

With the long debate whether poker is a game of luck or skill finding its way back into an American courtroom this month, Mount Pleasant Municipal Judge Larry Duffy became the latest U.S. lawman to rule in favour of the skill camp.

Presiding over the case of five men who were arrested and charged for hosting a poker home game back in 2006, Judge Duffy concluded that the card game was indeed one of skill rather than luck, but still found the defendants guilty under a breach of 1802 gambling laws.

After hearing testament from World Poker Tour host and expert witness Mike Sexton, as well as further support from University of Denver Professor of Statistics, Dr. Robert Hannum, Judge Duffy agreed that the evidence for poker being a game of skill was “overwhelming”. However, despite his assessment, Judge Duffy ordered that under 1802 South Carolina gambling laws–which brand any games involving cards or dice as gambling–all defendants must still pay their original fines.

Judge Duffy added that though he regretted having to enforce the charges, he did not have enough clarification from higher courts or law makers to determine whether his opinion made a difference to the 200-year-old law. As such, the case looks to be heading to appeal and should it ever reach the State Supreme Court a definitive decision on the legality of poker in South Carolina would almost certainly have to be reached.

Executive Director of the Poker Player’s Alliance, John Pappas, meanwhile stated that the group were “humbled by Judge Duffy’s thoughtful decision and applauded the effort put forth by the legal team defending these poker players.”

Duncan Wilkie
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