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Overview Of Poker Law In North Carolina

Like many states, North Carolina had its share of widespread gambling in its earlier days, although they took a pretty hard stance against it, and saw it as a vice that needed to be strictly prohibited.  The vice here is viewed as the wagering on games of chance. “Casino gambling,” for instance, would clearly be a game of chance, and this is seen as contrary to the public welfare.

Some things are prohibited by law due to it infringing upon other people’s rights, including causing harm to the person, either physical or economic.  So murder and theft are two examples of this.  Another reason for making something illegal is that it is felt to violate common standards of morality, which boils down to enough people believe that you shouldn’t be allowed to do it so it becomes illegal to do it.

There really isn’t any rational justification for these laws, this is rather the sheer use of force by the crowd to enforce their preferences, and scholars have spoken out against this for hundreds of years, and runs contrary to basic principles of liberty, yet it still remains a popular justification for the force of law.

You would think that North Carolina, being one of the more puritan states, would have a clear law against gambling, especially when it comes to poker.  North Carolina’s gambling law as it pertains to poker depends on whether poker is considered a game of chance or not though, as is the case in several other states as well.

So the law here, by way of the North Carolina Statutes, Chapter 14, Section 292, makes operating or betting on games of chance for things of value a Class 2 Misdemeanor.

The question has come up as to whether playing poker for money is covered by this section, and whether or not poker is a game of chance or skill is an issue that other states have wrestled with as well.

Poker does have elements of both, and often times the courts will look at deciding whether it is more a game of chance than skill, or vice versa.  In North Carolina though, their courts have taken a stricter view.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals, in Joker Club v. Hardin, ruled that since the outcome isn’t completely in the player’s hands in games of poker for money, then chance predominates over skill.

This is not a good argument by the way, as it’s saying that if there is any chance, then chance predominates, and this does clearly seem to be a case where there is bias involved in the decision.  In any case, courts do make law, and this does stand as the current view of the law at present.

Home Poker Games in North Carolina

It is contrary to law to engage in any betting for money on games of chance, including poker, in North Carolina.  This includes home games, and in theory a home game could be busted by the cops and both the host and the players charged with a misdemeanor. There haven’t been many stories out there that have featured any type home poker raids occurring recently, but I suppose it is possible depending on the stakes and other higher-risk circumstances.

Often times, the operator of the gambling is charged with a more serious crime, and it’s interesting that North Carolina has not chosen to do so, but on the other hand, they do take a blanket view that betting on games of chance is simply wrong and see it just as wrong to bet as it is to operate the game.

Is It Legal To Play Online Poker In North Carolina?

It is simply illegal to bet on games of chance in North Carolina, and this is not narrowed down to specific types of betting, it is comprehensive.  So any such betting is contrary to the law, the act of the betting itself is the crime, and if you are doing this while in the state, you could be charged.

There are two major elements that need to be present in order for a law to have force though.  The state must first be willing to enforce it, and the degree that they are committed to enforcing it will dictate the risk involved in breaking it.

The second element, and one that particularly pertains to online poker, is a law’s enforceability.  So they need to want to enforce it and they also need to be able to enforce it in a practical manner.

The nature of online poker makes it extremely difficult to enforce by the way, they have to first of all become aware that you are visiting an online poker site, and then they must determine that you are playing a game of chance for money.

There simply is not a good way to do this, and even countries who are hell bent on stopping online gambling have not been able to do much in enforcing these laws.  The only real successful region that has been able to stop online gambling is North Korea, where they deny people both computers and internet access, that certainly works.

So whether or not playing online poker is legal or not is one thing, but if we’re looking at this from a practical perspective, it being illegal or not may not have any practical consequences in stopping anyone or having them face repercussions.

Live Poker Options In North Carolina

In spite of their rather hard line stance against gambling, North Carolina does have land-based legal gambling and poker, at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, NC.  Certain Indian tribes in the United States have been able to use their recognized legal sovereignty to operate gaming on their tribal lands, whether states like it or not.

Often though the state will make deals with the tribe to look to limit their operations at least somewhat, and in North Carolina, the Cherokee have agreed to limit what they offer to what the state recognizes has having elements of skill, and poker is included.

It’s ironic though that the court considers poker to be a game of chance but the gambling regulators recognize it as a game of skill, but in any case, this resort does offer 20 tables of live poker, where poker players in the state who enjoy live poker can take advantage of.

The Future of Online Poker in North Carolina

North Carolina is not a state that is anywhere near disposed to even consider regulated poker.  This is one of the more conservative states in the country and the topic is not even being considered at the present time, nor is it likely to be anytime soon.

At some point down the road, when just about all states have regulated poker, the state of North Carolina may have to look at it, lest they be seen as excessively prudish.  Prudish states are in the majority now though so there’s no risk of that in the near future.

What really matters though is whether or not offshore poker rooms see a certain state as too risky to accept players from, and while there are several states that these poker rooms don’t like taking players from, and some like Washington who no one will take players from, North Carolina is in the clear right now and is not seen as an undesirable state.

So online poker players have plenty of good options among those sites that do offer online poker to Americans generally.