I'm sad to see that Derek Kelly has been found guilty in the case against him regarding the Gutshot Club. I think it sets poker in Britain several years back, unless overturned on appeal. I haven't read the Gaming Act of 68 but I sense it's intended to protect people who play games of chance against the house. I'm told it has nothing to say about poker. The fact that it talks about games of both skill and chance being games of chance suggests to me that it's concerned with games like Blackjack and Casino Stud Poker where some decisions made by a player can reduce his expected loss, but not give him a positive expectation. But I'm not a lawyer.
In any case, the current situation is absurd. This morning I read in Metro that a late night ITV phone-in show was found to have held a game where players were invited to suggest items that a woman might have in her handbag. Two of the 'correct' answers were a balaklava and a rawl plug.
I. Am. Not. Making. This. Up.
Nearly every television channel is running these ridiculous phone-in games with there being no transparency whatsoever. And what have the authorities decided to prosecute? - A member's club where the game is dealt fairly and transparently. Incredible.
Who is the victim in Kelly's crime? By my personal moral code, a thing is illegal because it's wrong, not wrong because it's illegal. In every other crime I can think of, the 'victim' wishes that the crime had not occured. Yet Gutshot's players, the people who have paid the disputed 'service charge' are the people most keen to keep the place open! The only losers have been the established casinos who cannot stand the thought of losing customers. Actually this isn't really the case. If a private members club were to take away 100 potential players from a casino on a given night, the casino would only care about the loss of the five who also punt heavily on the dice and roulette. The other 95 are of next to no concern.
I really don't want to go back to where we were in this country a few years ago, where with the exception of the Vic, poker was treated as a 9pm loss-leader to drag in a few punters to keep the pit games busy. The game could be so much more than that. Condemning Gutshot isn't going to protect anyone. The people who play in it can easily play online (where a rake is charged) or go to casinos (where they must be subjected to the temptation to play negative EV games).
Who wins today? Nobody except perhaps the established casinos operators. And in my opinion, most of them don't really care about poker enough to invest in doing it properly and have no idea how much more profitable it could be if they cared.