COUNTRY CLUB GOLF BETS BECOME FOCUS OF CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION

Is golf a game of skill or a game of chance? Having played too many rounds of golf I grudgingly admit that skill may be involved. And if on the witness stand, hand trembling on Bible, I would admit to losing more on the golf course from errant unfound golf balls blitzing into water holes, trees, berms, bushes, golf carts and on one occasion an unfortunate man’s head, than I’ve ever lost thru miscalculating my bets. Most golfers would probably agree.

Golfers have a long tormented tradition of making and taking bets while playing. In fact the reason there are handicaps is to facilitate fair bets between players of differing skills.

Golfers should not be prosecuted for making bets while playing because the stakes are small and the tradition of golf embraces bets.
Into the Trap



Florida on the other hand has a long tradition of making private acts of sportsmanship criminal. For example, a few years ago in Clearwater, Florida a friendly small stake poker game being played by retirees was raided by the police. The Poker Five became a nation symbol of Florida’s law enforcement’s absurd priorities and abuse of criminal law. 


The Florida legislature responded by making a specific exception to the gambling laws for poker games with small incremental betting, since poker is after all a game of skill, unless you’ve just won the pot from me, then poker is damned ugly game of chance which should be outlawed. Yet despite that law found at Florida Statutes 849, the Largo Police Department recently folded a Texas Hold’em Poker game by arresting folks who were playing for prizes.


So why are Tampa Bay, Florida police officers wasting their time investigating a Tarpon Springs golf course? The Tarpon Springs police department says their investigation of a possible ‘gambling house’ is necessary and proper under Florida law. 

The truth is they clearly need to refocus their investigations on actual violations of Florida law. At least they haven’t arrested anyone yet. The prosecutors at the State Attorney’s Office should immediately shut down this investigation and let these duffers play.