South Carolina Poker Players Go To Court
Back at the end of April, we reported here about the police raid on a poker game in South Carolina. To refresh your memory, twenty two players were taking part in a casual home poker tournament in Mount Pleasant, SC, when it was raided by local law enforcement. All who played in the game were cited and over $6,000 was seized by the police, including money that wasn't part of the game. According to the Associated Press, those players recently had their day in court on May 30th with a rather surprising outcome.
While four of the twenty two players appeared in court and entered guilty pleas (which were accepted and the defendants were fined $100 each), the other eighteen players have decided to take a stand and fight the power, so to speak. They have requested a jury trial and the case will be tried in the near future. What is at issue are the archaic gaming laws in the state of South Carolina, according to one of the players.
South Carolina gaming law is quite restrictive, banning games of chance with cards and dice. "The laws were basically set in place way back in 1802 because of the morality of the times," said Robert Chimento, who was one of the players who pleaded not guilty during his appearance in court. "Times have changed and this law needs to be changed," said Mr. Chimento.
There are definitely two sides to this story. The players contend that the game was simply a quiet home game between friends. Law enforcement, however, paints an entirely different picture. They say that the game was a high stakes casino style operation which took a rake from the games and advertised the tournaments on the Internet.
Previous reports have stated the game that was going on between the nearly two dozen people was a $20 buy-in tournament, which gives the players side of the story a little credence. The raid's seizure of nearly $6K in funds is also questionable as well because the police swept the house and took money from places far removed from the game at hand. Many of the players also commented that this wasn't the only game in town as well. "It's really ridiculous because there are much larger games going on," stated another player from the game, 78 year old Amelia "Midge" Cheseborough.
The prosecutor in the case, Ira Grossman, is forging ahead and planning an aggressive prosecution of the South Carolina Eighteen. While a trial date has not been set, he did state that the case will not move ahead of others and will be tried in due course. Prosecutor Grossman also said that it wasn't a place to change the law in the court system of the state but up to the state government to determine if gaming laws were in need of revision. We'll continue to keep track of this interesting court case and see just what happens when it comes to playing poker in South Carolina.
Ed Note: Like we keep saying. Play online poker from the comfort of your own home at Poker Stars