The Czech Republic might make history for the game of poker. If the Czech Association of Poker Clubs has anything to say about it, the game will not only exempt the game from lottery legislation but classify it as an official sport of the country.
According to a recent article in The Prague Post, pressure is being applied to the Finance Ministry of the Czech Republic to recognize poker as a sport. The Czech Association of Poker Clubs has even gone so far as to retain the services of legal members of the company Ernst & Young to help their campaign. And the pressure seems to be working, as ministry officials are said to be ready to introduce new legislation that will clarify and restate national gambling regulations, though it is not clear if poker will be included as of yet.
Currently, gambling is prohibited outside of casinos, and that limitation includes internet gambling, though poker is allowed anywhere in the country as long as it is not played for money. However, the advocacy group estimates that 60,000 people in the Czech Republic play poker, though only 1,000 of them play in official, government-sanctioned clubs; the vast majority of them play in other settings or online – all outside casinos. It is clearly a service that citizens of the country desire and will go to great lengths to find, so it makes sense that popular demand would dictate a special consideration by the government.
Poker players are fighting for poker to be exempt from the new “lottery act” and recognized as a game of skill. They are working to educate the members of the ministry about the elements of math and psychology inherent in the game, in addition to the benefits that regulation and recognition could bring to the legitimacy of the game.
Currently, the majority of Czech players are male and range in age from 18 to 30, though reclassification of the game as a sport could bring a much larger demographic to the ever-growing game. Few players classify themselves as professionals, just as citizens of the Czech Republic who enjoy the game for recreational purposes.