Enforceability of a Bar Bet

Rock, paper, scissors, lawsuit.

In January of 2011, two now ex-friends in Montreal bet $517,000 on a best of three series of rock, paper, scissors.  Seriously? Were they drunk? Is that enforceable?  In order, the answers are: Yes. Probably. And, according to the Court of Appeals in Quebec, which filed its decision this week, no. In Quebec, for a bet to be valid, it must be related to activities “requiring only skill or bodily exertion on the part of the parties,” rather than to chance. So, apparently, push up contests are valid in Quebec, rock paper scissors, no. Furthermore, in Quebec, the amount wagered must not be excessive. Since the loser of the bet had taken out a mortgage on his house to pay it, a half million dollars was too much money.

In the US, social bets between friends where the house doesn’t take a cut are based on state law.  Most states take the position that a friendly wager between two drunkards won’t be prosecuted but neither will it be collectible in a court of law.  So you can save your money and your friendship and just look forward to playing rock, paper, scissors in person someday.

From The Judge Group, I’m Amy E. Feldman for KYW News Radio.

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