Thursday, February 10, 2005

How illegal is Poker in North Carolina?

Actually, poker is not illegal in North Carolina, but exchanging money on the outcome of the game is. That is according to a newspaper article by Adam Linhardt and Roselee Papandrea that appeared in the Jacksonville (NC) Daily News on February 7, 2005. Here are some excerpts of the article that appears here:
North Carolina law doesn't split hairs on the legality of poker. If money changes hands, those in the game are breaking the law, district attorneys across the state say.
Still, poker arrests are rare.
In Jacksonville, the last one was about five years ago, said Paul Spring, deputy chief of the Jacksonville Police Department.
"Capt. (Gary) Dixon made an arrest regarding several subjects who were gambling and part of that was poker," Spring said.
Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown didn't recall the last time a poker arrest was made in the county, but, he said, he knows that people are playing poker for money. It's a crime that's difficult to catch while it's happening.
"The arrests don't happen very often," Brown said. "But there are still people who get together at people's homes or in common areas and play poker for big money."
While the activity is illegal, it doesn't get reported to authorities very often.
"If it doesn't become suspicious and get the attention of someone who might call law enforcement, they can normally operate a long time without something happening," Brown said.
Seeing the money is the key to making a poker arrest, Spring said.
"Playing cards doesn't constitute gambling," Spring said. "You are going to need to see the money on the table to know that they are, in fact, gambling."
Catching poker tournaments is a problem for police, but Gaston County District Attorney Mike Lands cautioned that those who play poker often forget it's illegal.
"It's kind of like speeding - a lot of people speed - and they say, 'Well, you caught me today,'" Lands said. "How many other times did officers not catch them?"
Let that be a lesson to all you card game hosts - Don't put the money on the table. Seriously, don't let it become a problem. Too much of anything is bad. Let's have fun and look out for each other along the way.

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