Today's NYT has an article reporting that former NY Senator Al D'Amato is joining forces with poker player associations to attempt to overturn the federal ban on online gambling. (His interest seems limited to poker playing online, which he considers a skill and not a game of chance, and not other forms of online gambling.) While that aspect of the article is interesting to me, out of my hatred for the last-minute attaching of online gambling prohibitions to a bill on terrorism and the nation's ports, what really stood out was the very casual and frequent mentions of D'Amato's casual, frequent illegal gambling. Apparently now D'Amato has a weekly poker game in Long Island, "where a bad night might mean that a player drops $5000 or more." When D'Amato was at least a part-time resident in Washington, D.C., he "was the host at a Thursday evening poker game at his Capitol Hill office, playing with other lawmakers, staff members and lobbyists." This seems like an odd subplot of this article given that, in New York and D.C., this type of gambling is illegal.
New York General Obligation Law 5-410 states that "[a]ll wagers, bets or stakes, made to depend upon any race, or upon any gaming by lot or chance, or upon any lot, chance, casualty, or unknown or contingent event whatever, shall be unlawful." (There are exceptions for state-run lotteries and parimutuel horse racing.) New York Penal Law 225.00 defines "contest of chance" as "any contest, game, gaming scheme or gaming device in which the outcome depends in a material degree upon an element of chance, notwithstanding that skill of the contestants may also be a factor therein." Now, although D'Amato's poker game is "unlawful," it may be that no player will be guilty of a crime. Just looking at the NY statutes, it appears that players have not committed a gambling offense unless they are "promoters." So, as long as D'Amato doesn't take a rake for hosting the game, then the whole enterprise will be overlooked, and this is how most social gambling in nice houses on Long Island is ignored. If the game were in a public place, then even the players could be cited for "loitering" for the purposes of engaging in gambling.
Should D'Amato' s Long Island poker game be aboveboard, we have to wonder why the same game played online is illegal or in a poker room where some sort of "rent" is paid to a host. Does the existence of a host create more negative externalities? Increase participation? Isn't it funny how if our so-called immoral activities take place by happenstance ("Hey, let's get everyone over and play poker," "Hey, I know we just met, but would you like to come back to my place?") then it's fine, whereas the introduction of a paid intermediary to faciliate the activity makes it illegal?
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Links to weblogs that reference D'Amato, Poker & Elitism in Gambling Laws:
1. Posted by Jake on March 5, 2007 @ 20:13 | Permalink
Due to the proliferance of state lotteries and Indian tribal casinos -- all perfectly legal -- one wonders why legislators and regulators go through the pretense of "outlawing" gambling. Far better to tax the hell out of it.
2. Posted by Misterloftcraft on June 5, 2011 @ 0:23 | Permalink
I wonder why the guy came with this just now after all the major poker scandals concerning Pokerstars and FullTilt Poker. It's not like out of a sudden, this guy had a revelation. He probably wants a lot of votes for the elections to come.
James, webmaster for winning hands of poker
3. Posted by northbetsportsbook on March 24, 2013 @ 6:57 | Permalink
I greatly enjoyed looking through your blog and found an informative one for sports related topics.