A South Carolina Supreme Court has overturned a 2009 ruling that poker is a game of skill and stated that home players can be convicted of illegal gambling.
The case stems back to 2006 when five men were found guilty of illegal gambling after a home near Charleston was raided and several thousand dollars in cash were seized during a Texas Holdem poker session. The men decided to fight the guilty charge, and in 2009, a circuit court ruled that since Texas Holdem is a game of skill, the men could not be guilty of breaking a law which dates back to 1802, making any game of chance, including board games such as Monopoly, illegal.
At the time of the ruling, the men said that they had challenged the first charges because
we’re just a bunch of average Joes playing cards. We want to be able to play cards in our homes. They’re trying to intimidate people to quit playing poker.
The state prosecutors appealed the circuit court judge’s ruling, and the Supreme Court has been mulling the case recently. In a ruling given on Wednesday this week, the judges found that when Texas Holdem is for organized games, it is considered gambling, and even a private home is considered to be a ‘place of gaming’.
Whether an activity is gaming/gambling is not dependent upon the relative roles of chance and skill, but whether there is money or something of value wagered on the game’s outcome,
wrote the judges in their ruling.
SC Gambling Laws Need Updating
Chief Justice Jean Toal, one of the judges in the Supreme Court ruling, said that while she agreed with the majority of the decision, she still believed that the 200 year old statute should be revised as it is “hopefully outdated”. The only types of gambling currently available in South Carolina are charitable lotteries and the state lottery, and there are even no land-based casinos. SC does, however, allow casino boats which sail into international waters off the state coast, offering players Vegas style gambling entertainment.