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Joe Francis: Hollywood Poker Is 'Perfectly Legal'

6/23/2011 1:00 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

"Girls Gone Wild" kingpin Joe Francis -- who was named as a player in the Tobey Maguire poker scandal -- is adamant the card games are "perfectly legal" ... and he can back it up!

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Francis was leaving Katsuya in Hollywood last night ... when he told us the legendary Hollywood games have been going on for "quite a while."

Joe also claimed he had a lawyer research the law about private poker games and found out, "As long as [the games] are between those few [players] and there's no house that takes a commission ... all these games that go on in Hollywood are perfectly legal."

TMZ spoke with powerhouse poker attorney Marc Zwillinger -- who reps the interests of poker players including through the Poker Players Alliance -- who backed up Joe's claim ... telling us, "Private home games in California are not illegal where there is no 'house.'"


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