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Poker parlors expanding in Arizona

6 April 2009

PHOENIX, Arizona -- As reported by The Arizona Republic: "Angel Martinez flipped over his cards and grinned across the green-felt table at Wes Sickler, who had just lost a pot of about $100 in no-limit Texas Hold'em.

"'That was beautiful. I love my hand,' Martinez chortled. 'Hey, man, what happened to your chip pile?'

"It was a casinolike moment, but the betting action didn't take place in one of Arizona's two dozen Indian gaming establishments, where bets and raises are restricted to a maximum of a few dollars.

"Rather, Martinez and Sickler were playing in a strip-mall card room on Greenway Road in Phoenix.

"Parlors like this one, known as Poker Nation USA, are proliferating across Arizona amid confusion about the legal status of a game that has emerged as one of America's favored pastimes.

"At the heart of the issue is whether poker is a game of skill or a game of chance.

"Arizona allows social gambling where only players make money. However, it bans others from promoting or profiting from games of chance, except on Indian reservations..."

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