The Mt. Pleasant poker players are likely to press on with their case against the state's gambling law after a municipal court judge ruled they would have to pay fines for betting on a poker game.
The expectation was that Judge Larry Duffy would rule that poker is a game of skill. Whether it's skill or chance is meaningless. The state's law was meant to ban gambling in nearly every sense. There is skill involved in winning Texas Hold 'em, but there's also a level of skill involved in Old Maid, Go Fish, Gin Rummy, and 52-Card Pickup. To bet on any of them would be gambling under the state's law.
And the further up these players climb in the courts, the more the rulings will turn on what the law intended to prevent. It's clear the existing law was intended to prevent games like the one raided in Mt. Pleasant.
Instead, the players should focus their attention on the Statehouse. Unfortunately for them, a bill introduced by former Rep. Wallace Scarborough went nowhere in the last session and no similar bill has been presented this year.
In truth, we think it will be impossible to get the state to make an allowance for home games like the one these guys participated in without legalizing gambling as a whole — mainly because the state can't make money off of home games, but it can rake up at the casinos.
Meanwhile, we'll be mastering the "skill" of 52-card pickup.