The debate of whether poker is luck or skill has been answered, and the answer is “we don’t care.” According to Reuters, the United States Supreme Court earlier today declined to hear DiCristina v. United States, leaving federal prosecutors free to use the Illegal Gambling Business Act to convict those who run live or online poker games that violate state laws.
Lawrence DiCristina was arrested back in 2011 for running underground raked Hold’em games in a warehouse in Staten Island, New York. He was then convicted in July 2012 in U.S. District Court when the presiding judge ordered the jury to consider poker illegal under the IGBA. The IGBA makes it illegal to run a gambling business that violates state laws and either earns more than $2,000 a day or runs for longer than 30 days.
A month later, Judge Jack Weinstein overturned the conviction. DiCristina lawyers filed a motion contending that poker was a skill game and not gambling. Judge Weinstein agreed and declared that Hold’em was not covered under the IGBA.
Prosecutors persisted with the issue and in August 2013, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case and subsequently reinstated the conviction. They ruled that the IGBA was subject to state law and it did not matter whether Hold’em was a skill game.
The Supreme Court not only declined to hear the case, but it appears that there is little support in the high court for the game. Not a single justice filed dissenting opinions for hearing the case.
With the Supreme Court rejection, DiCristina will return to Eastern District Court in Brooklyn for sentencing. He could face up to 10 years for IGBA violations but is unlikely to receive the full penalty due to a lack of criminal record.