Sen. Young has introduced SB 434 which legalizes the weekly poker game. If you want to play craps with your buddies, however, it’s still a crime. And cheating at either would be a new crime.
The legislation defines “private, low stakes card game” as being one played with physical cards, not open to the public, taking place at a particular residence not more than four times per month, and involving individual wagers that do not exceed twenty dollars. Current law provides that “a person who knowingly or intentionally engages in gambling commits unlawful gambling” which is generally a Class B misdemeanor. (Gambling is defined (partially) as “risking money or other property for gain, contingent in whole or in part upon lot, chance, or the operation of a gambling device but does not include participating in bona fide contests of skill, speed, strength, or endurance.”) With the new legislation, it would be a defense to a charge of gambling that the game was a private, low stakes card game.
There are probably any number of criticisms and potential tweaks for this legislation or our public policy approach to gambling generally, but making this defense only available to card games and not, say, dice games jumps out at me as arbitrary.
The bill also defines “cheating” as meaning “to alter the selection of criteria that determine (1) the result of gambling; or (2) the amount or frequency of payment in gambling.” It specifically includes the use of marked cards as cheating. The legislation would create the new crime of “cheating at gambling” which is a Class A misdemeanor. It would not be a defense to the crime that the game was a private, low stakes card game. Which makes some sense — if the game is rigged, it’s basically stealing.