Card counting in casinos

by Walter Olson on May 6, 2013

Counting by way of human memory is not unlawful, but casino law tends to ban card counting that is assisted by mechanical device. Is that a defensible distinction? [Adam Kolber, Prawfs]


1 captnhal 05.06.13 at 11:05 am

It is absolutely a defensible distinction. Compare cards to chess and see if it’s even a close call.

2 Hugo S. Cunningham 05.07.13 at 10:18 am

Captnhal’s analogy to cheating at chess is a good one.

How much the criminal law should be involved may still be subject to debate, however. I am put in mind of laws about ticket scalping. Many libertarians opposed laws against scalping, which even if morally dubious was a transaction between two consenting adults. But new technology has converted libertarians’ former allies in the scalper community into big-government enthusiasts. Pro-scalper state legislators have sought to ban electronic ticketing, which destroys the scalper business model by retricting admission to the person who originally bought the ticket.

3 Hugo S. Cunningham 05.07.13 at 11:33 am

More on chess:
Some advocates of poker have claimed it should not be banned under gambling laws because it is a game of skill like chess, at least over the long term. Prizes at chess tournaments have never been banned under gambling laws.

4 wfjag 05.07.13 at 6:54 pm

Hugo, that’s because chess is regarded as a nerds’ game. Never, in any TV, movie or pulp fiction Western did Brazos Bill say:
“Rook to Queen’s 6; Check.”
To which Pecos Pete, responded:
“Them’s fighten words, Mister.”

5 Hugo S. Cunningham 05.08.13 at 12:04 am

I still treasure a cartoon from the 1972 Fischer-Spassky championship matck, showing the temperamental Fischer, with an evil grin, releasing a slingshot:
“My move? Bishop to Spassky’s head!”

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