11/19/2012 : CYPRIOT POKER PROS FORCED UNDERGROUND
Police at odds with qualifier trials for Cyprus National Poker Team
Members of the Cyprus Poker Association have been forced to go underground, or rather online, to play selection games for the International Federation of Poker’s European Nations Cup competition due to kick off in Vienna on December 7, 2012, despite being Government recognised and certified, reports The Cyprus Mail.
“We are making history as the first ever national poker team to represent the island,” said CPA vice president, Antonis Theophanides.
During what members insisted were no-money-play initial tryouts for the National team in July 2012, 31 CPA members were arrested by Cypriot Police and charged with illegal gambling during Police raids at two different venues. Cash found at the raided venues was explained away as membership fee collections.
The CPA says it is getting mixed messages from Police. When planning a final trial tournament to select the National Team, the CPA said it was given conflicting responses to its request for permission to hold the tournament in Nicosia in order to prevent any further Police action. As a consequence, the CPA ran its National Team trials online to avert further raids and arrests.
Initial meetings between the CPA and Police officials regarding the arrests in Limassol look positive, however, with a spokesperson for the Limassol Police saying: “My personal opinion is that if these players were not playing for money, it’s not illegal. I believe the case will be withdrawn.”
In the meantime, the CPA said it looks forward to the big European challenge, despite the hurdles it has had to overcome to select a National Team, “we are making history and this is the first step for Cyprus into the poker arena, joining some 300,000,000 players globally,” said Theophanides.