6/2/10 – The bad news from Geneva, Switzerland this week is that the country’s highest court has ruled that poker is a game where chance, rather than skill, predominates.
The ruling affects poker tournaments, will can now only be legally held in licensed Swiss casinos, reports Associated Press. The popularity of tourneys has been growing in the northern European nation, with a large following on television.
In regard to Texas Hold ‘Em, the court found that simple math, tactics and psychology played smaller roles than luck in determining the winner.
The Supreme Court ruling, which cannot be appealed, came after Swiss land casino operators appealed a lower court decision that Texas Hold ‘Em was a game of skill and could therefore be played anywhere. It confirmed that smaller poker matches among friends could continue, even if money is involved.
Whether poker is a game of skill or chance has been the subject of court actions across the world. A Pennsylvania appeals court ruled 2-1 in March that it was illegal because it met the definition of illegal gambling because the outcome is more dependent upon chance than skill.
In Switzerland, games of luck such as roulette and slot machines are restricted to licensed casinos, which pay a hefty 50 percent tax on profits, AP reports. Private organisers of poker games weren't paying those taxes, argued Marc Friedrich, head of the Swiss Federation of Casinos.
"A parallel sector started to develop that did not have the same regulations and rules as casinos," he told The Associated Press, estimating about 100 unlicensed poker championships were taking place each weekend.
Casinos must identify participants, prevent money laundering and fight gambling addiction, but private Texas hold 'em events were avoiding these requirements, according to Friedrich.
He said the differences amounted to unfair competition, and said a number of players already banned from land casinos for racking up excessive debts were continuing to play freely in outside events.