AUTHOR: Jerry "Jet" Whittaker TITLE: Dealing with antiquated poker laws DATE: 4:41 AM ----- BODY: Seventy-nine-year-old Amelia "Midge" Cheseborough thought it was a joke when
police raided a home poker game, seized her $20 in chips and handcuffed her.
It wasn't. A 200-year-old law in South Carolina bans any game with cards or
dice. So state Rep. Wallace Scarborough has introduced a measure that would
make playing poker -- and Monopoly -- legal as long as the house does not
take a cut. Arrests involving poker games in South Carolina are infrequent,
but when the Charleston lawmaker heard about the poker raid on the radio, he
thought it was ridiculous and decided to introduce the proposal. "This would
allow a friendly game of cards," said Scarborough, who has played in a
charity poker tournament in Charleston. Last April, police raided a poker
game in Mount Pleasant advertised on a Web site. Authorities handed out
citations and seized nearly $6,000 in cash. Cheseborough said she lost her
chips and $85 from her purse when police charged into the home. At first,
she thought it was a joke. "Then we realized it was real when we saw guns,"
the Charleston resident said. She said she thinks the officer felt guilty
because he put the handcuffs on loosely, and she said she could have slipped
out if she wanted. Cheseborough was among 18 people who asked for a jury
trial to challenge the state's law. But in January, she decided to plead
guilty and ended up paying $50 in court fees. Fourteen of the 22 arrested at
the raid are headed to trial, according to town officials. Michael Bolcerek,
president of the California-based Poker Players Alliance, said laws
governing poker vary widely, even among municipalities. His group supports
any proposal updating antiquated gambling laws, he said. "We're very excited
this is happening," he said. "It's about time there was sanity in
legislation addressing people playing at home enjoying a nice game of
poker." Cheseborough applauds the new legislation and admits she's played
poker since her arrest. --------