As expected, the South Carolina attorney general has appealed a September court ruling that exonerated five poker players from any wrongdoing from an April 2006 home poker game .Henry McNaster said last week that Judge R. Markley Dennis, Jr. erred in overturning the poker players’ convictions on the basis that poker is a game of skill. McNaster, who is also a Republican candidate for governor, said in his appeal that the intent of the law was clear and that Dennis had no business addressing the skill argument.In his appeal filing, McNaster said that the judge should not try to legislate “by adding terms such as ‘chance’ or ‘skill’ when the Legislature has made clear that ‘any game with cards or dice’ when played for money or other consideration is forbidden.”The law in question, which was written in 1802 , bans “any game with cards or dice.” Enforced literally, even children’s games like Monopoly would be illegal in South Carolina. In his ruling, Dennis called the law “unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.”Based on precedence, the lower courts had adopted the “dominant factor” test — which ignited the legal debate of whether poker was a game of skill or a game of chance. The last two judges who heard the poker players’ case reiterated that based on the evidence presented to them, poker was undeniably a game of skill .The state Supreme Court has not yet said if it will hear the case. McNaster could have appealed to the Court of Appeals, but bypassed that court in favor of the state Supreme Court, saying the case deals with the constitution’s wording of gambling.While it may seem ridiculous that a $20 home poker tournament has possibly led to a hearing before South Carolina’s highest court, those involved with the case expected it all along.Immediately after the poker players’ victory in September, prosecutor Ira Grossman said, “Everyone involved in this case assumed that it would reach the highest courts in the state. I would say that an appeal is likely.”The Poker Players Alliance has been active in its support of the five men on trial, bringing out World Poker Tour announcer Mike Sexton and noted statistics professor Robert Hannum to present evidence that poker is a game of skill.
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