What is key is what form of the game that is being played and how long it is played for, according to the Supreme Court.
“We have found that the main tournament and its side tournaments were not random chance games, but that skill does come in to it,” judge Göran Lamberth told news agency TT.
However, the court has found that the freer form of Texas Hold’em cash games are in breach of Swedish gambling laws. In the cash game players can play when they like, bet when they like, and leave the table at any time.
“We find this form to be a game of pure random chance,” Lamberth told TT.
In 2007 four men were convicted of violating Sweden’s gambling laws for organising a multi-million kronor tournament in Grebbestad, which had hundreds of participants and lasted several days.
Two men were acquitted when the case was appealed in 2008, while the remaining two had their sentences reduced in part because the appeals court accepted arguments that the tournament involved a game of skill rather than chance.
In order to be convicted of serious illegal gambling crimes in Sweden, it is necessary for the game being played to depend to a substantial degree on chance rather than a player’s skill.
Expert witnesses testified in February that skill is critical for succeeding in the game. An experienced poker player gave the judge a tutorial in how the game is played and argued that it takes a lifetime to become a skilled player.
A maths expert from Chalmers University claimed that the element of chance is limited to the first dealt card.
Despite this however the court found that the outcome of the game is too reliant on random chance to be viewed as a purely skill-based game.
If the court had shared the views of the expert witnesses it would have opened up for Swedish betting companies to hold poker tournaments.