Indicted Poker Pro Permitted to Play Real Money Poker in Las Vegas

The judge has permitted professional poker player Abe Mosseri, one of the accused in an illegal gaming case, to visit Las Vegas to play real money poker. Mosseri is currently out on bail. The judge agreed with Mosseri when he argued that he is a professional poker player who has to earn his living till the court delivers the verdict on his case.

Mosseri is one of the few professional poker players accused of illegal gambling, but have been permitted to travel to Las Vegas to play poker. These poker pros are accused of being involved in an international illegal gambling case, in which a couple of Russian Americans used illegal online sports betting businesses to launder as much as $100 million generated through criminal activities.

The legal representatives of the professional poker players argued that their clients, being professional poker players, have to travel regularly to gambling hubs such as Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and others, to earn their livelihood. It is worth noting that prosecutors hardly put up any resistance to this argument.

Michael Bachner, the defense attorney, said at a court hearing held in May, “This is not Mr. Mosseri’s desire to get some hot weather in Las Vegas. He just wants to engage in his livelihood, which is a legal activity he has done for many, many years.” Travel restrictions imposed on Mosseri were lifted during this hearing.

When poker pro Justin Smith pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a fine of $500k, Jesse Furman, the US district judge, ruled that Smith could continue earning his living as a professional poker player till the day of the verdict, which is scheduled for January. His lawyer argued in court that Smith “makes a living by lawful poker playing and poker tournaments and supports members of his family that way.”

I. Nelson Rose, the gambling law expert, said that it isn’t surprising that the defendants were permitted to continue playing poker because there are so many ambiguities in US gambling laws. For instance, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) recently admitted that the federal Wire Act of 1961 does not apply to poker. Mr. Rose said that “it’s not clear that there’s any federal law at all against playing poker,” although certain US states have definitely outlawed real money poker. Professional poker players have always argued that they aren’t gambling because poker is not a game of chance, but a game of skill and strategy.

As many as 30 people have been arrested in this illegal gambling case, and the media has heavily focused on wealthy and famous defendants such as Hillel Nahmad, Molly Bloom, Smith, and Mosseri, to mention just a few. According to prosecutors, Smith, Mosseri, and others were arrested for their involvement in a conspiracy to run illegal betting businesses for wealthy clients.

Though the judge has permitted Mosseri to play real money poker in Las Vegas, he has ordered him not to stay at the Bellagio. Mosseri is also to give details regarding his winnings to the federal probation department.

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