It 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.
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.”