Radio Sweden reports that Swedish poker players are elated by a decision earlier this week by the Court of Appeal in Gothenburg that declares poker tournaments in the country generally legal.
The court threw out an earlier verdict by a district court in Uddevalla that had sentenced participants of a private tournament to prison terms for illegal gambling.
Within days of the new ruling a private operator had organised a poker tournament in Stockholm with more than a hundred players.
Previously only state-run casinos were allowed to arrange poker games involving money bets. But experts warned that the latest ruling does not endorse all kinds of poker gambling.
They pointed out that the Gothenburg judges had classified the tournament in question as skill-predominative because it was based on the “Texas Hold’em” variant. In the opinion of the court in this poker version the players’ intelligence and analytical capabilities are more decisive than sheer luck.
The state-run lottery and gambling authority [Lotteriinspektionen] is less impressed, and has announced it will now take the case to Sweden’s highest court.
Håkan Hallstedt, the authority’s director, told reporters: "We still want to see illegal gamblers go to jail. Other countries see poker as a game of chance," he added. "We will have to review this ruling and decide what the consequences are."
Swedish poker expert Dan Glimne told the Swedish newspaper Expressen: "Now anyone can set up a well organised live tournament and compete with Casino Cosmopol [the state-owned monopoly]."
Glimne acted as an expert witness for the defence in the Appeal Court case, which has its roots in a live tournament organised in 2007 in Grebbestad, Sweden which was shut down by the police as in breach of the country's monopolistic gambling laws.
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