Poker big guns in Bismark - Saturday 12th of March 2005

Some high powered industry personalities were gathering in North Dakota this week to show their support for a proposal to legalise online poker. Associated Press reports that the 2004 World Series of Poker champ, Greg Raymer is among a contingent of poker industry officials visiting North Dakota who are lobbying for a bill that could make it the first U.S. state to license Internet poker sites.



Raymer spoke at a news conference in the state capital Bismark organised by Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, who is sponsoring legislation to authorize state licensing and regulation of Internet poker sites.


A resident of Stonington, Conn., and a former biotechnology patent attorney for Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company, Raymer won the World Series of Poker last year. The annual Las Vegas event drew more than 2,500 players last April, and Raymer's victory earned him a $5 million prize, paid in cash.


No U.S. state licenses Internet poker sites, and a group of industry officials and experts said Monday that North Dakota could reap a financial windfall if the state is the first to take the plunge. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Bill this week.


Several officials, including Frank Catania, an attorney and former top New Jersey gambling regulator and independent director of the online casino regulator eCOGRA, and Patrick O'Brien, a lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and former U.S. customs agent, disputed U.S. Justice Department statements that Internet gambling is illegal.


"It's very easy (for the Justice Department) to write a letter, but it's something else to get into court and defend that letter," O'Brien said.


Allyn Jaffrey Shulman, an attorney who is an owner of Card Player magazine and chief executive officer of the poker Web site, said she believes poker is a game of skill, rather than gambling.


Raymer agreed, although he said "luck is a huge element" in poker. He played poker as a part-time professional for a dozen years before winning the World Series, and he never had a losing year, although he had stretches where he lost more than he won, Raymer said.


"I know plenty of other people out there who have supported themselves just from playing poker for long periods of time," Raymer said. "Clearly, if it was a game of just luck, which you can say about things like roulette, craps and slot machines, they could not have made a living for all that period of time by playing poker, because they're not going to stay lucky for decades."

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