The South Carolina State Supreme Court is considering whether or not to overturn a Charleston judge’s 2009 decision that poker is a game of skill, therefore overturning the conviction of five Mount Pleasant gamers arrested in 2006.
This will be interesting. I mean, beyond South Carolina, I can’t see this decision having any relevance at all.
A South Carolina law dating back to the 1800’s states one cannot play a game of chance for money.
Mark Peper represented six of the more than 25 people arrested in a poker raid in Hanahan in 2008. Peper is watching the case closely and says its up now up to judicial discretion to decide whether poker is a game of skill or luck.
What do you think?
“If you and I were to open a deck of cards and play go fish but we decided to play a dollar a hand, technically its illegal because of the statute that was enacted in the 1800’s and further because there is no skill involved in me asking you for an ‘8’ and you say ‘go fish’,” Peper said.
Peper represented Orlando Reyes in 2008.
His home was raided and he was convicted of unlawful gaming.
“Just playing cards, having a good time. That was about it. Next thing you know police officers in our house,” Reyes said about the night Charleston County deputies raided his Hanahan home in April 2008.
“We all went to jail that night and spent the night in jail,” Reyes said.
Reyes was fined $247 for the misdemeanor. So were many of the others arrested and convicted.
The state justices will now consider whether or not the law, which Circuit Judge Markley Dennis called broad and vague, is in fact, unconstitutional.
S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster says the statute outlaws using any house as a place of gaming and says the justices must decide whether or not the Mt. Pleasant home that was raided in 2006 was “a place of gaming.”
McMaster says, in his opinion, it was, because he says there were 18 people participating in the game he says was held regularly and advertised on the Internet.
McMaster says if the justices overturn Dennis’ decision, the Mt. Pleasant convictions would be reversed. The decision is expected in the next few months.
Thanks to ABC News in South Carolina for the bulk of this report.