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South Carolina Attorney General Decides What Is Legal Gambling

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In South Carolina, a judge recently ruled that poker is a game of skill and not luck. Mount Pleasant Judge Larry Duffy made the statement in a trial involving a house poker game raid back in 2006.

Even with the ruling of poker as a game of skill, the judge on Thursday found the defendants guilty of running a gambling house. It was a bittersweet moment for poker players in the state. Out of the case, however, popped an question that many in the state want answered.

The 1802 law in South Carolina regarding gambling states that any game with cards and dice is illegal. That does not just mean poker, it involves games such as Chutes and Ladders, Yahtzee, and even Go Fish.

The current Attorney General, Henry McMaster, claims that his office decides which games they consider illegal, and they use their own judgement. The office's stance is that only games they feel are more chance than skill are considered to be illegal.

"What planet were these people born on? How can they say that there is less skill in the game of poker than there is in say, a game of War. It is unbelievable that the Attorney General is allowed to interpret the law regarding gambling however he and his office want to," said an outraged citizen of the state, Barry K.

The gambling law in South Carolina being undefined for over 200 years is something that is also perplexing to some. The lawyer for the guilty parties in the current case cannot seem to understand what his clients did to violate the laws.

"If an essential element of the criminal charge is not defined, and the court doesn't even know what it is, how can my clients expect to know whether or not they are in violation of the law," asked Defense Attorney Jeff Phillips, as quoted by the Associated Press..

Phillips plans to appeal the municipal court ruling to a civil court, and there is the likely scenario that the South Carolina Supreme Court may eventually have to rule whether poker is a game of skill and how that pertains to this case.

"It's becoming quite clear the legal community agrees that this great American pastime is a game of predominant skill, not luck, and should not be considered gambling under the law," said Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance, John Pappas.

Even with the legal battle taking place over this much publicized case, it is the idea that the Attorney General's Office has the power to determine their interpretation of the law that is upsetting residents of South Carolina.

"I don't understand why the law is open to this sort of interpretation. It should be cut and dry. Leisure games are either illegal or not, why do they get to tell me which ones I can play," said Rachel C.

At she finished speaking her boyfriend of seven years, Nate L. jumped in, "Hey Rachel, if you figure out the answer to that one, you should next try to attempt to sort out the Internet poker gambling laws." Indeed, that is a riddle for another day.

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