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Litigation: Changes made to federal law that could determine poker's legality

The 2nd Circuit said the Illegal Gambling Business Act did not require the prosecution to demonstrate playing poker violated federal law

We previously reported on U.S. v. DiCristina, a federal criminal case pending in Brooklyn, New York that generated stories in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, with Federal District Judge Jack B. Weinstein determining that playing poker was not gambling under federal law.

Judge Weinstein had held the definition of “gambling” in the federal Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA) did not cover poker because federal law required that a game be predominated by chance rather than skill for it to be unlawful. In August, the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Weinstein. The court largely let alone Judge Weinstein’s conclusion that poker is not predominated by chance, but is a game predominated by skill. The 2nd Circuit reversed Judge Weinstein because the court determined that the IGBA did not require the prosecution to demonstrate playing poker violated federal law.

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Neil Merkl

Neil Merkl is a partner in the New York office of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP. He focuses on complex commercial litigation. Some of the...

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Contributing Author

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Clifford Katz

Clifford Katz is an associate in the New York office of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, in the litigation department.  He focuses on complex commercial...

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