In Denmark, earning a living from playing poker is illegal, even if online poker games are offered from outside the Scandinavian country, a Supreme Court ruling found this week.
The Copenhagen Post reports that a 35-year-old unemployed man was ordered by the court to surrender 194 000 kroner he won playing online poker – his sole income won over the course of a year – because he had violated Danish laws banning earning a living from gambling.
The court was a little kinder in cancelling a 5 000 kroner fine the man had been given by the Eastern High Court when he was originally convicted in November.
Complicating the issue is the fact that the decision covered only poker tournaments, and online poker per se was not considered during the trial. The court based its decision to waive the fine on the uncertainty over rules governing internet poker.
The man is the second person found guilty of the charge in recent months, the newspaper reports. In June, the Eastern High Court found a well established organiser of poker tournaments guilty of the same charge.
His sentence was later overturned by the Supreme Court, although it upheld laws banning poker tournaments.
A significant part of the Supreme Court ruling is that even though computer servers used to run the poker games are placed outside of Denmark, the individual computer used to play the game is located in the country and subject to Danish law. In other words, the actual gambling action is deemed to take place on the player's computer.
An estimated 50 000 Danes play online poker, according to poker website pokernet.dk.
Lawyers for the state emphasised that the decision does not outlaw online gambling.
"We will decide on a case by case basis whether someone is playing professionally," Crown Prosecutor Svend Larsen said.
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