It became official on March 20, 2010. The Government of the Republic of Lithuania declared poker as a sport, which not only sets the stage for poker to be widely recognized as a skill game and embraced as a respected form of competition, but it sets an example for the rest of the world that poker can be viewed as a sport as so many other games that have gone before.
The news came from the Director General of Lithuania’s Department of Physical Education and Sports, Ritas Vaiginas, who issued a public decree to officially recognize poker, specifically the Lithuanian Sports Poker Federation (LSPF), as a governmentally recognized sports federation. News of the decree spread quickly and made the front pages of major Lithuanian newspapers upon its release.
The LSPF is an organization that works to organize and promote non-commercial poker tournaments in casinos around the world, and its upcoming tournament schedule will be released in the coming days to celebrate the recent acknowledgement by the Lithuanian government. The first stop on the tour will be in Vilnius from April 24 to 26, and more information can be found here.
LSPF President Andrius Tapinas looks to help promote poker from within the organization, and his status as a presenter of a popular Lithuanian business television show gives him the forum from which to do so. He noted, “This is [an] extremely important step in our work. We are receiving congratulations from many [of] our colleagues abroad and I know that we are breaking thick ice with our projects internationally.”
Future endeavors by the LSPF and the potential of other similar organizations yet to be founded will allow Lithuania to set the standard for poker as a sport. If other countries follow suit and recognize poker for the game of skill that its players already know it is, there are unlimited possibilities for poker’s growth on a global scale.