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Amsterdam’s court calls poker a game of skill

The game of poker has scored yet another goal in Holland in a match against the state’s punitive Gambling Act.

In 2010, poker player and tournament organizer Steve van Zadelhoff won a case in court stating that poker is not a game of chance, but a game of skill. Four years later, ‘the game of skill’ has won another battle against ‘the game of chance.’

According to NL Times, three men were acquitted by the Amsterdam court after being charged of violating the Gambling Act. Seven years ago, the three men were caught organizing a live poker tournament. The verdict was clear: poker is first and foremost a game of skill, not of chance. The court needed seven years to reach the decision because of extensive research conducted by a group of experts regarding “the skill’s game.”

“The game of poker has evolved tremendously over the years. Many people play the game today, study books and experts acknowledge the skill level has increased to a point where one can no longer speak of a game of chance,” attorney Peter Plasman said after the acquittal. He represented the three men charged with violating the Gambling Act. Plasman was also on van Zadelhoff’s side four years ago.

However, this does not mean the Dutch will now be able to organize live poker tournaments when and where they please. They will still have to face the consequences even if that only means to pay for a long trial. Also, another judge could very well rule that poker is a game of chance. In fact, the current Dutch gambling law is unclear when it comes to poker both live and online.

The Gambling Act stipulates that offering or promoting games of chance without a license is prohibited. Holland Casino is the exclusive licensee for casino gambling, including live poker. And since the law is quite old (the legal basis is found in the Dutch Betting and Gaming Act of 1964), it doesn’t mention anything about the online market. Therefore, gambling online is prohibited.

It is still unknown if the prosecution will appeal. In 2010, the prosecutor appealed against the court’s decision but withdrew the appeal two years later. What will happen this time?

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Florian Gheorghe

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