Dutch poker analysts and government officials have refuted claims that the game is one of skill and officially ruled that anyone organizing tournaments could be prosecuted for breaking the law.
Officially ruling on a case that stretches back almost 10 years, Amsterdam’s Court of Appeal suggested that, despite the game’s evolution in recent years, luck is still a major part of the game.
Overall the Netherlands defines poker as a gambling game and, as such, three men were arrested in 2007 after they were found to be the organizers of poker tournaments in a bar in Bussum.
Fighting the case in the Netherlands’ lower courts (district courts that sit below four courts of appeal and the Supreme Court), the two men managed to convince two judges that poker was a game of skill.
Citing the growth of the game over the last decade and the skills increase of the average player, the two men showed that poker was more than a game of luck.
However, after the case was passed to Amsterdam’s Court of Appeal, the judge ruled that poker is still a game of luck because it’s based on the cards a player is dealt.
Sticking to this ruling, the judge gave the two men suspend fines of €1,250/$1,375 and the bar owner a suspended fine of €500/$550 (the fines were suspended because the case took so long to complete).
The ruling will not only come as a blow to those that promote the skillful aspect of the game but to tournament organizers across the Netherlands.
Under the current system, only events organized by the Holland Casino Group (the only casino licensed to offer live poker games) are legal.
The Netherland’s decision to brand poker a game of luck sits in contrast to another European country.
In 2014 Norwegian high stakes pro Ola Amundsgard challenged his country’s politicians to a public heads-up match to prove poker was a game of skill.
Offering up a prize pool of NOK1 million/$116,000, Amundsgard managed to beat Erlen Wiborg from the Progress Party and convince many members of the government that there was skill in poker.
That event eventually led to the 2015 Norwegian Poker Championships being held in Norway for the first time since the event’s inception in 2008.
While the US is currently an iGaming market in a state of disagreement, a number of European governments also have contrasting opinions and the recent Dutch poker ruling is an example of that.