The saga of a West Virginia tournament offering a trip to the 2009 World Series of Poker to its winner again illustrates the confusing and often conflicting nature of state and federal gambling laws. When all was done, the tournament, held yesterday, went off as originally scheduled.
Ninety-six qualifiers won their way to the final through radio call-ins, with the contest sponsored by the West Virginia Broadcasting Corp. and run as part of the "West Virginia Poker Tour." The grand prize: a trip to the 2009 WSOP Main Event. The event, though, faced cancellation after West Virginia Lottery Commission general counsel stated that the event, to be held at Snowshoe Mountain Resort was illegal, and asked for Pocahontas County authorities to investigate. In Melton's view, only racetracks and facilities with limited video gambling were allowed to hold an event of this nature. Melton, however, did not determine whether an entry fee had been paid by the contestants; lacking such a fee, the contest was legal.
Pocahontas County officials investigated and determined that the event was indeed legal as planned, allowing it to go forward. The three-pronged test for gambling – used broadly in many jurisdictions – includes an element of chance, prizes to be won, and "consideration," the entry fee or wager placed. Lacking that consideration, the event was legal under WV law and was allowed to proceed.