Pennsylvania Court Finds Poker A Gamble

A 65 year old Pennsylvania man failed to convince the court that poker was a game of skill and has now been charged with twelve illegal gambling offences.
In 2007, Lawrence Burns was found to be running poker tournament at two local fire halls in Westmoreland County, Pittsburgh and was subsequently charged with illegal gambling. Burns admitted to organising and running the competitions but denied the allegation of illegal gambling claiming that poker was instead a game of skill and therefore exempt from gambling laws.
According to  Pennsylvania state law gambling is ‘something where a payment is made, there is the possibility of a reward and the outcome is determined by chance.’ Burns’s lawyers argued that chance played a minor role in the game and that reward was determined more by the strategy and technique of the player.
An eminent professor, Dr. Robert Hannum, was brought in to add validity to this claim having helped to acquit another individual in a similar case in Colorado. He cited results from a computer simulation where skilled players won  960 million out of a billion poker hands against less skilled opponents, and which seemed to echo a similar study carried out by Citigal which claimed that the chance element in poker was less than 12% and that 88% of the time the outcome of the hand was determined by the individual skill of the player.
Further evidence as to the skill levels involved in poker were presented in the form of the plethora of poker instructional materials available as well as the existence of consistently winning poker players.
Despite all the evidence presented during the trial, the 12 person jury remained unconvinced and found Burns guilty of ‘allowing people to assemble to gamble, inviting others to gamble, and allowing gambling on a premises under his control.’
District Attorney John Peck said he would not be seeking a jail sentence for Burns. Meanwhile Burns said be would be seeking to appeal the decision to a higher court and that the jury were not experienced enough to make a professional decision as to whether poker was a game of skill or not.

Other news:   Multi-state online poker compact bill introduced in Pennsylvania

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