On April 6, The Supreme Court of Sweden declared that Texas Hold’em Poker is partially a game of skill and also partially a game of chance. Critics see the court’s neutral ruling as an indirect support of the status quo.
According to Swedish gambling laws, all games that are influenced by chance automatically fall under the jurisdiction of the Swedish state-controlled Gambling Monopoly – Svenska Spel.
By avoiding taking a definitive stand on the issue, Judge Göran Lamberth, left it up to politicians to change the legal status of online poker sites in Sweden. Currently poker is legally defined as a game of chance, identical to a toss of a coin. The new ruling did not strike this classification from within the gambling laws.
The Supreme Court judge segregated poker into Tournament Poker and Table Game Poker. The judge declared that Tournament Pokers requires skill to be able to win money, specifically because of the length of time required to play as well as well as the inability to exit the tournament without losing the buy-in.
Table game poker, played at casinos, the judge classified as a game of chance, since it’s possible to play one hand (with very lucky cards), win a large sum of money, and immediately exit the game with the profit intact. It’s not possible to do this in Tournament Poker, thus a single or multiple lucky combinations of cards, will not improve the overall chances of winning the tournament.
“The court finds that the main tournament and its side tournaments were not random chance games, but that skill does come into it. What is crucial in making the distinction is the particular ‘form’ of the game that is being played and how long it is played for at traditional or online casinos in Sweden,” said Judge Göran Lamberth.
The case reviewed by the Swedish Supreme Court was reported by GamingZion.com in the following article: Swedish Supreme Court to Decide if Poker is a Game of Skill or Chance.
The case involved a group of individuals who threw a large poker tournament with a prize pool in Sweden back in 1997. Police arrested all four individuals responsible for operating an illegal tournament and the case slowly made its way through the legal system.
By making this ruling, the judge reaffirmed the convictions of the four poker promoters. International observers were hoping for a ruling which would set an international legal precedent to help proponents of liberalized poker worldwide.