Poker clubs to challenge government

Following an unsuccessful legal challenge by the British Casino Association this week, the UK Poker Clubs Association (UKPCA) has followed suit and is set to challenge the government’s upcoming new gambling legislation. They will launch a High Court challenge today.

The UKPCA, which represents 720,000 poker plays in the UK and 13 clubs, believe that the new Gambling Act, which is set to come into force this September, will force many poker clubs out of business. They claim the legislation will unfairly favour gaming establishments, such as casinos, that offer poker as a secondary activity.

When you look at the facts, it appears they have every right to be aggrieved. Gaming venues that don’t offer poker as its principle activity will be able to charge players £3 a day, allowing them to play unlimited stakes for unlimited prizes. However, poker clubs can only allow winning pots up to £1,000 a week, with entry charges set to a maximum of £1.

Barry Martin, chief executive of the Gutshot Club in Clerkenwell, one of the UK’s most popular poker clubs, is disillusioned by the government’s position on poker clubs.

"We have tried to engage the department through the correct procedures in an open and transparent manner," Mr Martin said.

"Unfortunately they don't want to listen. Venues not set up for poker, without trained staff or proper facilities, where the main activity may often be gambling, will be able to play for unlimited stakes and prizes, but poker clubs will not. It is ridiculous."

The department of culture, media and sport (DCMS) will listen to views from across the gaming industry before it makes a final decision on the legislation in July.

Earlier this year, owner of the Gutshot Club, Derek Kelly, was convicted of running illegal poker games after failing to persuade a court judge that poker was a game of skill.

Editor, - 2007-06-15 11:30:26

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