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French Court Rules Poker to be a Game of Skill

2 August 2011 by admin

Poker players, especially those in France, have cause to be happy. Potentially. The French Criminal Court of First Instance in Toulouse has ruled that poker is a game of skill.

This ruling is the result of a trial against Jean-Pierre Gleizes. Gleizes is the manager of the French land casinos Les Coulisses and St. Tropez. He was accused of organizing private poker games in public venues without having a license to do so. Gleizes claims that poker is a game of skill and therefore not subject to French law that requires a license to run games of chance. Evidence was given by a professional poker player, a mathematics professor and national champions of chess and bridge to illustrate that poker is indeed a game of skill.

The ruling opens up a whole new stance on poker in France. For starters online poker would be exempt from the online gambling bill that recently passed in the French government. The purpose of the bill was to regulate any casino online that offers games of chance to French citizens. If online poker becomes exempt from the online casino bill, online gambling operators would then be able to avoid paying the French government licensing fees and taxes on revenue. However, prior to even to this French ruling, there was an effort underway to include games of skill in an enlargement of the online casino bill.

While many French poker players are happy to hear that their favorite casino game is now considered a game of skill, there are some repercussions that could impact them. If poker is officially declared to be a game of skill it then becomes a taxable skill. That would mean that French professional poker players would have to pay taxes on their income. But the ruling does give them the clout to say what they do for a living is not left to chance.

The only dark spot in this ruling is that the prosecution is seeking an appeal to overturn the FCCFI’s ruling and have poker—both online poker and casino poker—declared a game of chance. The decision will reside with the French Supreme Court.

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