Five friends have escaped jail terms after a jury decided that their friendly poker tournament at the local bar was NOT gambling.
Kevin Raley and four other men were arrested last August on charges of professional gambling and illegal gambling after a lengthy undercover investigation by plain-clothed cops.
If found guilty of the first charge all five faced prison terms.
But a court in Windsor, Colorado, has thrown the case out after arguments by a college maths professor that poker is a game of skill — not luck.
“We never believed we were doing anything wrong whatsoever,” said Raley.
“It’s entertainment. Some people go to the movies. Some people play golf. I play poker.”
Software consultant Raley was backed by The Poker Players Alliance who paid for an expert witness to testify over poker’s status as a game of skill.
Under Colorado law, illegal gambling “means risking any money, credit, deposit, or other thing of value for gain contingent in whole or in part upon lot, chance, the operation of a gambling device, or the happening or outcome of an event, including a sporting event, over which the person taking a risk has no control, but does not include bona fide contests of skill.”
But University of Denver boffin Robert Hannum told the court that poker was not primarily dependent on chance, simply on a player’s skill.
“The PPA is pleased with the outcome of this case,” said Gary Reed, the Colorado state director of the PPA, in a statement. “It is further confirmation that poker is indeed a game of skill, not chance.
“At the same time, the not-guilty verdict cements the rights of Colorado citizens to enjoy the American pastime of poker and will allow law enforcement to use its scarce resources to investigate real unlawful activity in the state, not poker games.”
Perhaps realising they were on shaky ground, prosecutors dropped the professional gambling charge against Raley before the case went to trial.
The illegal gambling charge carried a maximum $100 fine.