In June, a New Zealand District Court decided that tournament poker is not gambling as defined by New Zealand gambling laws. The court case in question was between the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs and TV Works Limited, which was running paid advertisements for the PokerStars Asian Pacific Poker Tour (APPT). The decision was based on the idea that tournament poker players are competing for a prize rather than truly gambling, and was welcomed by New Zealand gamblers.
Two days ago, Justice Ron Young reversed this court decision. His rationale is that the buy-in, or entry fee, of a poker tournament such as the APPT is “indirectly staked on the outcome of the poker game trying to win money in a game depending partially on chance, the definition of gambling” in section 4 of the Gambling Act 2003.
Justice Young also made a distinction between players who win a seat at a tournament through satellite events at New Zealand poker rooms, and other players who buy their way into the poker tournament. Players who win a seat qualified through skill, he says, while players who buy a seat are overtly gambling.
The results of this decision may have an impact on New Zealand’s poker scene, since it closes a loophole in the regulation of online poker in the country. The decision has been welcomed by the Department of Internal Affairs. The Department’s Director of Gambling Compliance, Mike Hill, called the decision an important step in the regulation of online poker sites in New Zealand.