Game Of Skill Debate Gathers Buzz In NY, India

New York

The gaming buzz phrase that makes poker players roll their eyes is back at the forefront of at least two very different political arenas.

In both India and New York, events have been set in motion that will see poker be pushed as a " game of skill" in efforts to separate it from strict anti-gambling laws.

Last year a poker bill in New York made some headway, endorsed by State Sen. John Bonacic. It passed through the Senate but subsequently died in the Assembly, where Assemblyman Gary Pretlow was among those unconvinced that poker was a game of skill.

"When you're gambling, there's a bet, and if you change the bet, the odds change based on who is betting," Pretlow told PokerNews last year. "In poker, you're betting and you're changing the bet by raising. That's gambling."

Strangely, Pretlow also said that he expected legislation to pass in 2017. He's been the one to get things going this time, sponsoring A05250, which entails identical language to Bonacic's bill.

"Allows certain interactive  poker games be considered games of skill rather than games of luck; includes definitions, authorization, required safeguards and minimum standards, the scope of licensing review and state tax implications; makes corresponding penal law amendments," the new bill states.

India has been gaining a lot of steam as one of the largest emerging markets for poker. Online startups are bringing in millions as the game spreads like wildfire through the nation of 1.25 billion people.

However, some people are not jumping on the bandwagon. A Surat police commissioner moved to close down a local poker league. The case is now going to court, according to The Times of India.

Petitioners trying to get the club approved are approaching the Gujarat High Court to try to get poker cleared. The court has reached out to local police for an explanation.

"Poker is a game of chance and not skill which allows gambling in game," the commissioner stated.

A few weeks ago a state senator in Virginia sought to reclassify poker as a game of skill. The bill did pass the first test, a committee vote to get it into the Senate, but its long-term prospects are rather murky, according to industry observer Steve Ruddock.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Billy Baxter won a landmark suit against the U.S. government roughly 30 years ago arguing that poker is a game of skill, but that same old debate still has traction even in a place like New York, showing how little progress has actually been made.