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South Carolina Poker Group Takes Gamble

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A group of poker enthusiasts is challenging their arrest on gambling charges in an effort to change a South Carolina law that has made outlaws out of card players for two centuries. Eighteen of 22 people arrested in April during a police raid at a Glencoe Street home entered not-guilty pleas Tuesday in municipal court and asked for a jury trial to decide their cases. No trial date was scheduled.

The remaining four defendants opted out of the crusade and pleaded guilty before Municipal Judge David Michel. The judge ordered each to pay a $100 fine, and they left the courtroom without comment as their peers looked on with disappointment. Robert Chimento, who pleaded not- guilty, said the four who pleaded guilty were people who lived outside of town and wanted to put the episode behind them.

But he vowed that a core group would forge on to prove that a state gambling law is the real villain in this case. The law bans games with cards or dice, making everything from poker to "Chutes and Ladders" illegal, he said. "The law was basically set in place way back in 1802 because of the morality of the times," Chimento said.

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