A legal battle in
Westmoreland County Attorney Larry Burns is accused of operating for-profit poker tournaments, which state officials contend is prohibited by the Pennsylvania Constitution. The case has not yet to trial, but the prosecution, led by District Attorney John Peck, has scored an early victory.
A court denied Burns’ motion to release more than $11,000 seized during state police raids of his home, along with tournament records and other documents.
Burns was able to secure the return of $2,000 in cash seized from his bedroom, and he also obtained an order from a judge prohibiting Peck from using the word “gambling” to describe the poker tournaments.
Burns does not deny the allegations that he ran for-profit poker tournaments. His contention is that because poker is a game of skill and not chance, it is not illegal under state law.
“Whether you win or lose, it’s based essentially in the cards you are dealt, and that’s by chance,” Peck said. “It meets the definition of gambling.”
At the heart of the case against Burns is whether poker qualifies as a game of skill or a game of chance. The final ruling could ultimately determine the legality of poker tournaments though out the state. If Burns is acquitted-a decision which would likely be appealed to the highest court in the state-the ruling could clear the way for anyone in the state to operate poker tournaments.