The highly publicized arrest of a professional gambler concerns even the smallest risk takers in the metro. Many viewers have questioned if they stand to get in trouble for playing poker. And at least one federal judge tells News 9 he does not think it should be illegal.
The attorneys for Teddy Mitchell and his sons, recently named in a federal gambling indictment, all agree with the ruling from a federal judge in New York who determined poker is not gambling, but instead a game of skill.
"We've never disputed that Teddy had poker games at the house, but we dispute the fact that it's illegal," said Mitchell's attorney, Scott Adams.
Adams is, as the old saying goes, laying all of his cards on the table.
"I would tell everyone, you ought to be scared to death to see our government go after someone who had a poker game at our house. Because we all have done that," Adams said.
Mitchell, his two sons Dryden and Nick, and five other defendants are accused in a federal indictment of hosting poker games at Mitchell's home in northwest Oklahoma City and illegally taking sports bets online.
"If they can do this to teddy, then the next time we have an office pool or have a poker game up here we could all be arrested and indicted and in prison and it's wrong."
Adams and defense attorney Billy Bock hope to convince a jury of that by referring to another case. In August a federal judge in New York ruled that poker is more a game of skill than chance and cannot be prosecuted under a federal law. That law was created to stop organized crime families from making millions of dollars from gambling.
"If our courts will do what New York did then we will be able to prove that what they were doing is playing a game of poker with friends."
But if Oklahoma courts do not follow New York's lead then Mitchell's attorneys warn that even the smallest poker player could run the same risk.
"I would think if it's a violation of the law, it's a violation of the law. And I would watch out what you are doing."
This federal case does not apply to the offshore betting accusations, but the attorneys say they hope to only defend that portion of the indictment by the time the case goes to trial.
All nine defendants in the federal indictment are out of custody on certain conditions. A trial date is expected to be set November 13.