Legislators in Israel are considering whether or not to legalise poker tournaments for the first time in Israel in the country following a Supreme Court ruling that poker is a game of skill and so should not be classed as gambling.
A Bill proposed by Likud MK Sharren Haskel would regulate the Israeli Poker Players Association and allow it to organise national and international tournaments. Control over the sector would fall into the hands of the Finance Ministry. Previously poker players would face a year in prison and organisers of poker tournaments face three.
Supreme Court Judge Neal Hendel said: “The fact that the players go to contests and tournaments year after year strengthens the conclusion that it is not a game of luck.”
Mr. Haskel said: “Israeli sportsmen bring respect and pride to the state in international competitions,” “Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that poker players are sportsmen and not gamblers, they should be permitted to practice on their home turf.”
Most types of gambling remain illegal in Israel with the exception of government-run monopolies on both lotteries and sports betting. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted to introduce casinos into Eilat to boost tourism three years ago but nothing has been approved.