|The debate over whether poker is a game of skill or chance took a negative turn last week as a British appeals court ruled against online casino GutShot.com.|
GutShot.com opened the GutShot Poker Club in 2004 to complement its online business but authorities in London promptly shut it down and charged manager Derek Kelly with operating a land-based poker room without a licence as he was offering a game of chance.
Kelly fought the prosecution stating that poker is a game of skill and not prohibited under the 1968 Gaming Act but lost his first action. American business law professor Joe Kelly testified alongside expert players at the original trial that ‘poker is overwhelmingly a game of skill’ and the 23,000-member private club did not need a gambling license to take a share of profits from players because the Act applies to chance games like roulette and not skill- based games such as poker or chess.
Prosecutor Graham Trembath argued at the appeal that, as the deck of cards was shuffled, poker is both a game of significant chance as well as skill, a combination the UK Government classifies as chance.
However, Zeeshan Dhar, defending Kelly, told the jury that poker required such a level of skill that it did not fall within the remit of the Act.
'If we accept that a game of chance includes all games of combined chance and skill, every game you could possibly think of would fall foul of this particular Act,” said Dhar.
Kelly is unlikely to face a prison sentence but will be subject to a large fine following his conviction for breaking British gambling laws.
'It is important that we take time, take stock and go down to GutShot to rearrange what we do, but we are not closing,” said Kelly.