Early Signs From DiCristina Hearing Positive for Poker

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A significant legal test for poker in America appears to have gone well for proponents of the game.

Today, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in U.S. vs DiCristina, with the US appealing an earlier ruling that found the IGBA does not apply to poker.

Not familiar with the DiCristina case? Here’s an excellent (and concise) summary.

Early signs point to a positive outcome for poker

While a decision has yet to be issued by the court, people close to the case saw much to like about today’s proceedings:

Live reporting was not allowed from within the courtroom.

To re-emphasize, these are impressions of those close to the case and do not represent a guarantee of any particular outcome.

Issue of poker as a skill game not directly in play

Much of what excited poker players about the original ruling by Judge Weinstein was his emphasis on poker as a game of skill – more like chess than craps.

But the amount of skill involved in poker was not directly in play during today’s hearing, as the DoJ elected to not contest the ruling on that issue. Instead, the DoJ argued that Judge Weinstein had misinterpreted the IGBA, renedering the issue of skill vs chance moot.

So what is the impact of the DoJ ignoring the skill issue? A poster on TwoPlusTwo clarified the implications of the DoJ’s decision:

[…] Anything not appealed is conceded. So if DOJ did not appeal this finding of fact, for the purposes of the appeal, it has conceded that poker is predominantly skill.

But, as you know, that concession for the purpose of appeal gains us no legal argument in future cases. Instead, we are guaranteed a positive, but welter weight, argument based on the trial court’s finding of fact. Good stuff to have in any subsequent wrangling on the subject, but not dispositive under any circumstances.

Again, this is all pre-decision speculation.

Would an upholding of Weinstein’s ruling make online poker legal in the US?

No, although it would be a general step in that direction. Online gambling would still be subject to state laws and possibly to other federal laws.

- Chris is the publisher of OnlinePokerReport.com. Grove also serves as a consultant to various stakeholders in the regulated market for online gambling in the United States.
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