HICKS COLUMN: South Carolina has no room to lecture us on gambling
So the state Supreme Court says organized poker games are illegal — even when they are played in private homes.
Well, that lets me and my buddies off the hook. No one would ever describe our game as “organized.”
The Supremes took only 25 months to reverse a Circuit Court ruling that Texas Hold 'Em is a game of skill exempt from South Carolina's creaky anti-gaming laws. That means Bob Chimento and his pals will not be getting a refund on the fines they paid for a 2006 Mount Pleasant raid, during which police found that — gasp — they played cards for money.
It's ridiculous that the state wastes its resources on such frivolous matters when cyberhackers are raiding our bank accounts. Want proof? The Supreme Court ruling notes that our gaming laws were updated in 1816.
South Carolina has really got to get over the 19th century, folks.
You can debate whether poker is a game of skill or luck all day long — if you can't find a good card game.
Fact is, Hold 'Em is a game of skill when you win, and it's all luck when the knucklehead across the table hits his third ace on the river. But none of that matters.
It doesn't even matter that the Supremes were ambivalent about the occasional kitchen table poker game.
This is not about games of chance versus skill, it's about hypocrisy — which we have in spades.
The state of South Carolina runs a lottery, which is a game of almost-no-chance, and rakes in millions of dollars a year. So officials have no room to lecture anyone on the evils of gambling.
But lawmakers continue to do just that. Why? Because they cower in fear of social conservatives — people who are adamant that the government stay out of their lives, but have no qualms about force-feeding their backward views on the rest of us.
Outdated, out of touch
In a concurring opinion, Chief Justice Jean Toal pretty much concedes this.
She calls the state's gaming laws “hopelessly outdated.” You think?
“I now charge the Legislature to modernize (the law), as I am inclined to agree with the dissent that this provision is constitutionally infirm,” Toal wrote.
That means it's stupid.
Don't blame the Supremes too much here, they have to work within the framework of state law. And the law is flawed.
But the Legislature won't do anything about it because they are scared of the Bible brigade. And who pays for it? Anyone who wants to play cards for a few bucks, where they might actually have a good time and stand a much better chance of winning than they do with the state's own lottery.
Toal can challenge all she wants, but the South Carolina General Assembly will not have the guts to change gambling laws until Greenville secedes and joins Georgia.
So if the police have nothing better to do than raid a kitchen table game, well, come on. Good luck catching my crew. How embarrassing will it be to write an incident report that notes these criminals “had a total of $35 on the table”?
There are much bigger crimes in this state, not the least of which is clinging to 19th century laws for fear of offending people who still live there.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or read his blog at blog.postandcourier.com/brians-blog.