U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder stated on Tuesday that the recent crackdown of online poker by federal prosecutors was “appropriate” but that he was unsure of whether or not poker should be considered a game of chance or skill.
“We have to enforce the law as it exists and there are laws on the books with regard to Internet gambling that we have to enforce,” Holder said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing. “The case that we brought for instance in the Southern District of New York involved pretty substantial amounts of money and big financial institutions and I think those cases are appropriate.”
While Holder insists that the sites were on the wrong side of the law, he later admitted he was not sure whether or not poker was a game of chance. When first pressed for an answer he said that he not able to weigh in on an issue that is fundamentally connected to the Department of Justice’s position that online poker violates U.S. Law. He was then asked if he thought Phil Ivey was a great player or if he was just really lucky to which he responded, “I am not sure I know who Phil Ivey is, but I am sure there is some degree of skill that is involved, some degree, I am not a poker player myself.” He then went on to say that it is up to Congress to clarify the laws on online poker and that it’s simply the Justice Department’s job to enforce them.
His response echoes many in the government leading us to believe that even many of the government’s top officials are at least open to the idea of recognizing poker as a game of skill.
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