Pokers High Court Stake

Is poker a game of skill or luck’? This is currently the principal question that is besetting high court magistrates in the UK, regarding which types of establishments can host poker games. If deemed a game of skill, poker will remain available to players in members clubs. If deemed a game of luck such as blackjack or roulette, poker will only be available in licensed UK casinos.

At the centre of the debate over poker and gambling lies London’s Gutshot club (Barbican), where poker is a prominent feature. The Gutshot have been part of a year long investigation by the Gambling Commission and the Metropolitan Police into illegal gambling, and has lead to two charges relating to breaches of the 1968 Gaming Act. These include taking rakes from players’ stakes and winnings.

Having hosted poker games since January 2004 and with more than 12,000 members, Gutshot owner Derek Kelly claims that poker is merely an activity of club members who engage in a game of skill. Mr Kelly is adamant that the Gutshot is a non profit club from poker, any money made from poker is returned to the committee that in-turn returns the takings to the members at its own discretion. These actions have led to Corner Magistrates reviewing the strict regulations of poker in clubs and casinos.

Poker tactics employ a high degree of strategy including, bluffing and reading other players reactions and body language. Mr Kelly backs this point of view by stating that “poker is a game dominated by skill” he further added “provided you are more able, you will be a winner, like any sport there are elements of luck, however the more skilful player will win in the end.”

A ruling against the Gutshot could lead to police closure of all poker clubs. This without doubt would have a severe affect on the gambling industry. In the 19 months since the Gutshot’s inception, several poker clubs have opened in the UK. A High Court victory for Mr Kelly would pave the way for poker rooms to be open throughout the UK, changing the landscape for poker players throughout the the country.

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Editor, - 2005-10-26 11:40:05

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