Online poker has been assaulted on several fronts over the past few days. The June 1st institution of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) had, to this point, yet to be in full effect. Another ruling in Switzerland, issued the day after the UIGEA was enacted, has been decried by poker’s preeminent governing body as a misguided judicial decision.
On June 2nd, the Swiss Supreme Court made the decision that poker was a “game of luck,” which has a significant effect throughout the country. The lower court decision that was overturned ruled that Texas Hold’em was a game of skill and eligible for play anywhere, including private games in hotels, bars, and restaurants. The decision by the Swiss Supreme Court reverses that decision and makes such private games illegal; under the Supreme Court decision, the only place for poker to be played is in a casino.
The International Federation of Poker (IFP), which has made significant inroads into becoming the governing body for the sport of poker, reacted with understandable outrage over the Swiss Supreme Court decision. The president of the IFP, noted poker journalist Anthony Holden, was quoted in a statement on the organization’s website: “This is yet another example of misguided poker thinking by courts and judges who simply do not understand the game – i.e. that poker is a ‘mind-sport’ of strategic skill far more than luck.”
Holden accurately pointed out that the sport of poker has reached beyond the debate of skill versus luck when the International Mind Sports Association (IMSA) recognized it as a “mind sport.” He explained, “In April of this year, poker was accepted as a ‘mind-sport’ by the International Mind Sports Association, an organization recognized by the International Olympic Committee, which puts it on a par with chess and bridge as a game of skill.”
“Poker has also been invited by SportAccord, the general assembly of 150 international sport federations, to take part in next year’s World Mind Games in China,” Holden pointed out in the IFP statement. Poker is also expected to be a competition sport during the IMSA’s next World Mind Sports Games, to be contested during the run of the Summer Olympics in 2012 in London.
Since it was created in April 2008, the IFP has been one of the most active advocates for the sport of poker around the world. After electing Holden as president, the IFP’s primary goal has been to have the sport of poker recognized as a skill – or “mind” – sport instead of its common view as a game of luck. Exactly one year after its founding, the IFP was able to earn the “mind sport” designation from the IMSA and has exhaustively been at the forefront of proving to governmental organizations, through academic research and study, that skill is a much more critical element to poker than luck.
“We at IFP will continue this battle on behalf of the poker community,” Holden emphasized in the IFP statement while appealing to the wider poker community. “I urge you all to rally to our support. Do not allow our skillful ‘mind-sport’ to be hijacked and repressed by ignorant legislators. We must persuade governments and courts throughout the world to separate it off from mere gambling.”