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July 9, 2010

Poker, as a Game of Skill, Is Beyond Reach of Gaming Laws

By: Ifrah Law

The highly regarded British publication The Economist has just published an interesting article that strongly makes the case that poker is a game of skill, not a game of chance.

The article notes that poker is, of course, big business these days, pointing to a consultant’s estimate that the online poker market amounts to $4.9 billion worldwide, with $1.4 billion of that being spent in the United States.

But is all this money being expended on gambling – on the chance fall of a card – or, rather, on a game of skill akin to bridge, chess, or checkers?

The Economist quotes David Sklansky, author of “The Theory of Poker,” as writing that “expert players do not rely on luck. They are at war with luck. They use their skills to minimise luck as much as possible.” As the article points out, this is a key question at the heart of the legality of poker in the United States, where the game was born.

We have long taken the view that poker is a game of skill, rather than of chance, and thus does not fall under the reach of state and federal anti-gambling laws.

The Economist seems to agree.

It notes that Sklansky has argued that it’s impossible to lose intentionally at a game of chance like roulette. Yet it’s easy to lose intentionally and rapidly at poker.

It’s good to see that this and other sensible arguments being made in such a prestigious publication.

Ifrah Law

Ifrah Law is a passionate team of experts that understands the importance of listening to and addressing specific concerns of clients – when facing the heat of a federal investigation or the ire of a business competitor. Experience in complex cases related to online gambling and sports betting, internet marking and advertising, and white collar litigation.