CYPRIOT POKER PLAYERS ON LEGAL FRONT LINE

Cyprus Small 3aug12It could prove to be a pivotal time for Cypriot poker, with the courts on the Mediterranean island examining the case for legalized poker which could eventually overturn current legislation outlawing the game.

At a press conference on Thursday, the Cyprus Poker Association (CPA), which had national trials for the 2012 IFP Nations Cup interrupted by police last month, presented their case to the press, fully backed by the International Federation of Poker.The arguments in favour of legalised poker are persuasive: approximately 800 million players around the world, a game used in the world’s most respected educational centres such as Harvard University, increasingly successful poker tours such as the European and World Poker Tours, and the IFPs membership of the International Mind Sport Association.However, the case for legal poker is not always as straightforward as it should be.

Tony Theophanides, a tireless and spirited advocate for poker in Cyprus, has been instrumental in poker’s defence, despite inevitable frustrations.

“We have proved that legally we can play poker in Cyprus, we have proved that it is our human right to participate in sport, we have proven to everyone that we were not gambling and we have proven that the demand for poker in Cyprus is massive but we still have to defend our position.”

In a statement in support of the CPA, IFP President Anthony Holden was explicit in his backing of poker players in Cyprus, outlining the various arguments while being critical of Cypriot authorities who claimed that national trials constituted illegal gambling.

“Players take part for the love of the game, not for financial gain,” said Holden. “There is no money involved, so it is hard to see how this could remotely be described as gambling.

“IFP exists to demonstrate that poker is a Mind Sport of strategic skill – like chess, bridge, draughts etc., IFP’s fellow-members of the International Mind Sports Association,” he added.

“On the BBC only this week, there has been a call for these Mind Sports to be included in future Olympic Games. This has since publicly received parliamentary support. Poker is now second only to football in terms of global popularity.

“As President of IFP, I urge all concerned to support the Cyprus Poker Association in its perfectly legal and respectable activities. We look forward to welcoming the CPA’s team to our events, and wish to express our unqualified support for CPA and its dynamic vice-president, Tony Theophanides.”

The case continues in Cyprus, although Theophanides is determined to fight for the rights of poker players until successful.

“As we said before,” said Theophanides, “this is one fight that we will not lose.”