PPA seeks return of government-seized poker funds

Jul 15, 2009 7:11 PM
by GT Staff |

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA), a poker grassroots advocacy group with more than one million members nationwide, today filed a motion in Southern District Court of California to participate as amicus curiae, or "friend of the court," contesting the government’s June seizure of poker players’ funds by the Southern District of New York.

"As the voice of online poker players, PPA should be granted the opportunity to provide evidence and legal briefings on why online poker is a game of predominant skill and not considered illegal gambling under the law," said John Pappas, executive director of the PPA. "Recent rulings in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Kentucky and Colorado all affirmed that poker is a game of skill.  PPA was actively involved in representing the rights of the poker players in each of these cases and should be able to do so at the federal level."

On Friday, July 10 PAccount Services filed a motion seeking the return of funds that was seized from their bank accounts by the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Southern District of New York.

That motion alleged that the government’s seizure was unlawful. Part of the basis for the motion was that the money in the Account Services bank accounts was being held on behalf of individual poker players in the U.S. and that such money was not subject to forfeiture.  Another argument in that motion is that poker is not illegal gambling under federal law.

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If the motion is granted, the PPA will have the opportunity to brief members of the court and participate in hearings regarding the legality of poker and the players’ right to have their funds returned.

"Any action contesting the government’s seizure of players’ funds will help protect the rights of U.S. Internet poker players, and we will explore every legal avenue to ensure that our members’ voices are heard and their rights are protected," continued Pappas.

PPA was actively involved in three other court cases involving the legality of poker.  In Pennsylvania, Judge Thomas James, Jr. ruled that poker is predominantly a game of skill and dropped 20 charges against the defendants, who held a poker game in their home. 

Later in the month a Colorado jury found defendant Kevin P. Raley not guilty, again because they found the poker league he formed was playing a game of skill, not chance.

In South Carolina, a judge found that poker was a game of predominant skill, and referred the case to a higher court to determine how the predominance of skill will be applied to the law.  PPA’s Litigation Support Network was involved in each of these cases – providing expert witnesses, preparing arguments for trial, and filing amicus briefs with the courts.

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