|In America, five defendants in a case brought against players participating in home poker games have requested a trial by jury after growing angry with laws that ban any form of entertainment using cards or dice.|
The defendants in South Carolina were charged under a state law passed in 1802 following raids early last month. The affair was the culmination of a ten-month investigation by police where four houses were watched. Officials stated that high-stakes games were taking place and arrested 27 people and seized $62,000.
Those arrested included several prominent businessmen, a policeman, a Navy officer and a teacher. In total, 65 people were charged in the operation and forced to post bond. Of these, 19 have already pled guilty to misdemeanours and have been ordered to pay fines ranging from $154 to $257.
One of the players charged last month was Bob Chimento, even though he wasn’t at a game at the time. He stated that the stakes were too high for him at the raided games but that he had played at one of the other homes investigated. He had played in October alongside an undercover policeman and had a warrant was issued for his arrest.
“The reason we’re fighting the law is because we want to get our state representatives to change this law,” said Chimento.
“We’re just a bunch of ‘average Joes’ playing cards. We want to be able to play cards in our homes. They’re trying to intimidate people to quit playing poker.”
Legislators in the southern state have made efforts at changing the rules including Republican Legislator Wallace Scarborough. His proposal last year would have permitted cash poker in homes where no rake was collected. However, his proposal was sent back to committee last month and will not see action until 2009 at the earliest.