In yet another chapter of the skill vs. luck debate, a group of dedicated players have won a major victory for Poker in the state of South Australia. The cases related to unlawful gaming charges filed against well known Australian poker players Paul Ravesi and Bradley Jones in the South Australian Magistrates court. These trials were test cases pending further action against other players involved in a raided poker tournament held in Adelaide on the 8th June 2005. The tournament was held and organised by the Australian Poker Association (APA), and was due to be the first event of the well advertised 3rd annual South Australian Poker Championships, before it was raided by undercover members of the South Australian Police.
In findings published Tuesday 15th July 2008 Magistrate Koula Kossiavelos accepted the evidence of Dr Bob Crossman who contended that Poker is a game of “significantly more skill than chance.” The magistrate also found that the tournament was organised and conducted in the belief that it was a legal event and that police had been notified and shown no interest in the staging of such poker tournaments previously held by the APA in Adelaide. Magistrate Kossiavelos found the players not guilty of all charges brought against them.
The magistrate found evidence presented by defendants Ravesi and Jones to be both truthful and compelling. At the same time, he rejected some evidence put forward by the prosecution, commenting that they brought nothing acceptable to the case that was contrary to what was already confirmed and presented by the defendants.
This case has been of significant interest to a large number of people in the Australian poker community, with final resolution being hampered by many adjournments as the Magistrate deliberated on legal aspects related to the action.
The judgment by Magistrate Koula Kossiavelos effectively gives the green light for poker players in South Australia to organise private, not for profit, poker games. According to the judgment, Texas Hold’em is not considered an illegal game under South Australian legislation. Nor is the holding or organising of poker events in which the proceeds are returned to a prize pool of some form.
Although this gives clarity in South Australia, players from other states continue to hold private events under the untested belief that their activities are legal. Only time will bear this belief out, but in the meantime the poker community can celebrate a great victory for the rights of players in Australia.
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