Wednesday, June 2, 2010
The Supreme Court in Lausanne, Switzerland has ruled that Texas hold ’em poker is a game of luck, rather than a game of skill. As a result, only casinos can host poker tournaments in Switzerland. Private games with friends, even where money is at stake, are still permitted under the ruling.
Poker tournaments had been growing in popularity in the country, with many events held in hotels and bars. Such venues do not have to pay the 50% tax on profits levied on licensed casinos, nor comply with regulations combating money laundering and gambling addiction. Poker is now categorised alongside roulette and slot machines, which as games of luck can only be played inside casinos. Mathematics, strategy, and bluffing were less important in determining the result than chance, said the judges, overturning a lower court ruling to the opposite effect, and disagreeing with the stance of the country’s Federal Gaming Commission.
Before the ruling, it had been estimated by the Swiss Federation of Casinos that there were about 100 unlicensed poker tournaments every weekend. A Swiss poker website, SwissPokerTour.ch, has described the result as “a black day for all amateur poker players in Switzerland.”