US Court of Appeals Sides with Feds by Reinstating Guilty Verdict vs. Poker Operator

In August 2012, Judge Jack Weinstein of the Eastern District of New York reversed the guilty verdict given by a trial court jury against Lawrence DiCristina, for violating the Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA) of 1955. In line with this, the federal prosecutors challenged the presiding judge’s decision by filing an appeal with the US Court of Appeals of the Second Circuit.

Last Tuesday, and after a previous hearing for the motion to appeal Judge Weinstein’s judgment, the court’s panel of judges came out with a ruling that reinstated the guilty verdict against DiCristina.

Many had lauded Judge Weinstein’s reversal of the jury ruling, as he concurred with the defendant’s argument that poker was “not necessarily” gambling because it is predominantly a game of skill.

However, the US Court of Appeals judges disagreed with Judge Weinstein’s contention that the IGBA was ambiguous as far as illegal gambling business is concerned. Rather than base their judgment on considering poker as predominantly a game of skill, the judges made it clear that the decision to reinstate the guilty verdict was in accordance with what the IGBA law plainly stated as unlawful.

DiCristina was found guilty of violating the State of New York’s laws by operating a gambling business, which he promoted by word of mouth and by way of text messages. Furthermore, DiCristina’s gambling operation answers all other conditions regarded as illegal under IGBA. The business was operating continuously for more than 30 days and taking in revenues of more than $2,000 dollars per day.

The U.S. Court of Appeals of the Second Circuit, therefore, sent the case back to Judge Weinstein for DiCristina’s sentencing, for which the latter may serve a maximum prison term of ten years.