(photo credit: courtesy)
Poker tournaments will become legal for the first time in Israel if a bill proposed by Likud MK Sharren Haskel is passed into law.
Currently, poker is not permitted, because in the past it was considered gambling. Poker players were subject to a year in prison and organizers of poker tournaments to three.
But the Supreme Court recently ruled that poker is a game of skill, rather than luck, and therefore should be permitted
. Haskel’s bill is intended to legislate the ruling.
“The fact that the players go to contests and tournaments year after year strengthens the conclusion that it is not a game of luck,” Supreme Court Judge Neal Hendel wrote.
The bill would regulate the Israeli Poker Players Association and empower it to organize national and international tournaments. The Finance Ministry would have overall control over poker in Israel and would tax earnings.
Israelis have enjoyed success over the years in the world’s top poker tournaments. The highest ranked Israeli poker player is Timur Margolin of Ramle, with earnings of $1,742,590, including more than $150,000 at the latest World Series of Poker.
The top Jewish poker player in the world is thought to be Erik Seidel of Las Vegas, whose earnings top $34,500,000 and who has been inducted into the poker hall of fame.
“Israeli sportsmen bring respect and pride to the state in international competitions,” Haskel said. “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.”
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