Dutch Professor used his retirement speech to drop a bomb, stating that according to his studies poker should be classified as a game of skill in the Netherlands.

The Gaming Intelligence Group reported that Professor Van der Genugten’s address has made large waves in the Netherlands, gathering the attention of the media and prompting the Liberal Party to open the possibility of reviewing the Supreme Court’s classification of poker as a game of chance.

According to the Gaming Intelligence Group, “Van der Genugten has been actively involved in the application of the Dutch Betting & Gaming Act, and his formula has been used in court to determine the classification of fantasy sports games.” Since Van der Genugten is an authority in the field of probability and statistics, his words carry a lot of weight in the Netherlands, and potentially could set off a chain reaction in the poker industry.

Poker News Daily went through Professor Van der Genugten’s 2004 paper “Measuring Skill in Games: Several Approaches Discussed”, which he wrote in collaboration with Marcel Dreef and Peter Borm. This 18-page paper gives an overview of the method developed by Van der Genugten and Borm to “determine whether a game can be classified as a game of skill or not … based on the Dutch gaming act.” For a game to be considered of skill rather than chance, the Dutch legislation requires two main considerations:

  • The expected results in the long term must be different for players according to their level of skill – beginners ought to win significantly less than optimal players. This difference in results is what Van der Genugten calls “learning effect.”
  • The effect of chance in the game (called “random effect”) should allow the difference in expected results to be “substantial,” meaning there should be room for the learning effect to make a real difference in payout.

Using the learning effect and the random effect, Borm and Van der Genugten defined the skill level of a game with this formula:

skill level =             learning effect
                    learning effect + random effect

Using this formula, games of pure chance would have a skill level of 0 – since there is 0 learning effect in lottery, for example – while games of pure skill (such as chess or checkers) would have a skill level of 1 because the random effect is 0. According to Van der Genugten’s formula and research, Blackjack has a skill level of 0.049, management games (such as fantasy baseball and football) have a skill value of 0.3 and poker has a skill value of 0.4. Interestingly, fantasy sports are recognized by Dutch legislation as games of skill thanks to Professor Van der Genugten’s formula, while poker is not. This inconsistency was brought up by Van der Genugten in his farewell address, where he called for a review of the Supreme Court’s classification of poker.

If the Dutch Liberal Party succeeds in having poker reclassified as a game of skill, it may set off a series of changes in poker legislation all over Europe and even across the Atlantic. We will keep you updated on this issue as more information becomes known.

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