Sep 9 2010

Switzerland Reaffirms that Poker is a Game of Luck

written by: Haylie under News Comments: Comments Off

Several months ago, the Supreme Court of Switzerland passed down a ruling that poker was not primarily a game of skill, but rather a game of luck. This week, this same ruling was also upheld by the powerful governing council of Switzerland, the Federal Council. This is a big deal in the small country as this means that, based on Swiss law, real money poker play is illegal outside of an approved casino. However, in addition to upholding this ruling by the Swiss Supreme Court, the Federal Council did apply some clarification to allow for lenience on Swiss gambling law in regards to poker play.

One of the conditions placed on the ruling was that non-professional games played in someone’s home - such as a Friday night game of real money poker between a few friends – would still be legal under Swiss law. However, it would be illegal for a bar to host a real money poker tournament, even if the establishment did not directly profit from the event. Another entity that the Swiss ruling does not touch is the practice of online poker play for real money.

While online poker players from Switzerland can let out a sigh of relief for now, there is a looming problem with this ruling that is concerning many online poker professionals and casual players alike. With the passage of this law, Switzerland has now taken a stance on the idea of gambling outside of a casino - something that they all but ignored before. In addition, classifying poker as a game of luck further causes problems for possible further laws that might seek to further limit the play of real money poker outside of casinos.

One of the reasons why this ruling came down was that casinos registered complaints that, due to poker tournaments held outside of their establishments, they were losing money in their poker rooms. While this would normally seem to fall under the “tough luck” category, Swiss casinos directly contribute to the country’s taxes. Because of this, the Swiss Supreme Court recognized the urgency of the ruling and the Federal Council agreed that the necessary tax revenue could not be diminished by private professional poker tournaments.

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