Friday, April 18, 2014

Court Rejects Motions to Dismiss Case Against MGM Gambling Defendants; Concludes Poker Is Game of Chance, Not Skill

Guam News - Guam News

Guam - Chief District Court Judge Francis Tydingco-Gatewood has denied a motion to dismiss the illegal gambling charges against 2 of the defendants in the MGM Spa case.

In her decision, Judge Tydingco-Gatewood rejected Defense Attorney Pete Perez's argument that "poker is a game of skill, and not one of chance and thus does not fall" within the scope of the Illegal Gambling Business Act [IGBA].

Perez represents MGM President Wai Kam Ho. Co-defendant MGM Secretary Jimmy Hsieh joined in the motion to dismiss.

Read the motion to dismiss HERE

To support his argument Perez cited the case of United States v. DiCristina which was decided in August of last year by the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York State.  In that case the court ruled that "poker is not gambling under the Illegal Gambling Business Act." 

Judge Tydingco-Gatewood notes that the DiCristina case is under appeal and she writes  "to construe poker as 'predominately a game of skill' would be in direct contravention to the concept of applying the ordinary, common meaning of a term. Gambling should be given its ordinary and common meaning, which includes the game of poker."

And the Judge concludes that "'A game of chance' can simply mean just that—a game where chance plays some role in the outcome, regardless of whether it predominates over skill."

"Ho and Hsieh’s Motion to Dismiss Count 2 and all related counts of the Second Superseding Indictment, is hereby DENIED."

READ Judge Tydingco-Gatewood's decision HERE 

Judge Tydingco-Gatewood set June 4th as the date for Jury selection to begin followed by a trial.

BACKGROUND:

In December 2011 a Federal Grand Jury indicted Wai Kam Ho, Jimmy Hsieh, Jennie Wen Chin Pau, William M. Perez, and Pauline Perez on charges related to an alleged conspiracy to conduct an illegal gambling business at the now demolished MGM Spa in Tamuning, and then laundering the profits they made from it.  

READ the December 2011 indictment HERE

In March of last year, Pauline Perez  agreed to enter a guilty plea to Operating an Illegal Gambling Business stipulating  that "since 2006 she assisted her father, William M. Perez and his partners Jimmy Hsieh and Wai Kam Ho, in conducting illegal card games in the basement of the MGM Spa building" and that "starting in early 2010, the group discontinued the baccarat games, and defendant's father, William M. Perez, started offering illegal poker games on the ground floor of the building."

Perez acted as "cashier for the poker games, which were offered nightly. $6,000 of the monthly profits from these poker games was delivered to Jenny Pau, and ultimately deposited into MGM Spa's bank account to assist in paying the monthly rent."

READ Pauline Perez's Plea Agreement

TRIAL SCHEDULE:

The following trial schedule is hereby issued:

* The following must be filed or lodged with the court by …………. May 3, 2013

*  An original and one copy of the witness list. Witness lists must include legal names, aliases, nicknames, village/city of residence, and place of employment.

* Proposed Voir Dire Questions, Proposed Jury Instructions with source noted, and Proposed Verdict Forms.

* An original and three copies of the exhibit list. Government’s exhibits shall be numbered and Defendants’ exhibits shall be lettered.

*  Three complete sets of marked and tabbed exhibits in three-ring binders, with each binder containing a filed copy of the exhibit list.
The exhibits shall include those items which may be introduced for identification into evidence but not necessarily proffered for admission,
i.e., police/investigative reports or witness statements. The parties shall meet and confer sufficiently in advance of trial and formulate a set of joint exhibits. Those exhibits upon which agreement cannot be reached shall be submitted separately by each respective party.

*  Final Pretrial Conference shall be held …...…………May 21, 2013 at 1:30 p.m.

* Jury Selection and Trial shall be held on………............June 4, 2013 at 9:30 a.m.

the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York held that poker
is not gambling under the Illegal Gambling Business Act

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