Saturday, August 23, 2008

More South Carolina Poker goes to trial

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A Mount Pleasant judge refuses to throw out a case involving an alleged illegal poker game. The hearing comes more than two years after the incident. The five poker players who've been protesting this case say the law they allegedly violated is unconstitutional and it's wording, vague.
It's on TV, it's online, but playing in your own home when betting is involved, not allowed. That, at least is the opinion of Mount Pleasant Judge Lawrence Duffy. The problem, says Defense Attorney Jeff Phillips, "they focused in on the betting, even though the statute does not focus on the betting."
Phillips, a poker player himself, argued with Judge Duffy saying the statute only prohibits playing games with cards or dice in very specific locations.
"The statute clearly says you cannot play any cards or dice in a house of gaming? How do we know what a house of gaming is? This was not a public place, this was a residence that was not, even if it was used to bet in, was not a house of gaming. It was a house to live in," said Phillips.
Bob Chimento was one of 22 players police say gathered at this Mount Pleasant home for a Texas Hold em match. The game was advertised online with a $20 buy-in.
"They were talking about a high stakes poker game in there. That is absolutely the most ridiculous statement I've heard in my life," said Phillips.
Judge Duffy found the law clear enough, stating that the Supreme Court had cited the statute nine times prior. Phillips calls the comparison misleading. This fight, he says, a first to target the law's unconstitutionality.
From here the defendants plan to go trial or they may consider pleading, so an appeal process may then begin. Earlier this year, another major poker bust, where 19 players were arrested in Hanahan after a raid.

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