A Dutch court ruled late last week that poker is a game of skill, not of chance. This is an age-old question that countries around the world have struggled to answer. The problem has to do with how a country’s gambling laws sort different kinds of games. Typically, games of skill have a different legal status than games of chance, so depending on how poker is classified, it might be legal or it might be illegal.
Dutch gambling laws specifically state that games of luck or chance can only be played at state-run casinos. The law also states that casino-style gambling games are considered to be games of chance. Until the recent ruling, poker in the Netherlands was also included in this category.
“Poker has become a different game, depending on tactics, experience and psychology,” the defense argued in the Hague court. The decision was a long time in the making – the courts began deliberation on the matter back in 2008. Now, since poker is considered to be a game of skill, it will be possible to enjoy poker games and tournaments in a much wider range of venues.
The ruling brought about another big change, but it mostly only affects one particular person. In 2006, a man who had organized a poker tournament in the Netherlands was arrested. Now, four years later, this sudden change in the way in which poker is categorized has greeted the man with a sudden ruling: not guilty.
It is not yet clear how the new ruling will affect online poker sites in Holland. The country does not license gambling operators to provide internet casinos or other games of chance, but now that poker is considered a game of skill, and is no longer bound by local gambling laws, perhaps it will flourish online as well. In the meantime, Dutch players looking to play poker online in the Netherlands have access to a wide range of poker sites hosted from other countries.