A shot in the gut for Gutshot Poker Club owner

Derek Kelly, the owner of Gutshot private members’ poker club in Clerkenwell Road, central London, last week lost his landmark case at Snaresbrook Crown Court in East London.

Kelly, 46, was trying to win his battle to get the game of poker recognised as immune from gambling legislation. He argued that poker was a game of skill and should be subject only to the same laws as chess and bridge.

He fought prosecution for running an unlicensed club but was convicted by a jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court in East London. He will be sentenced on a date to be fixed, but Judge Simon Wilkinson indicated Kelly will not be jailed. The club boss will also have to pay legal fees in excess of £23,000, and now faces the closure of his Gutshot private members’ club.

Kelly had been charging his punters an entrance fee of £22 and creamed more than ten per cent off the pots they won, which could hit thousands of pounds. Kelly, of Greystones, County Wicklow, Ireland, was convicted of illegally charging a levy on the winnings and illegally charging a fee to take part in breach of the 1968 Gaming Act.

The court was turned into a card school as Mr Trembath demonstrated the rules of Texas Hold’em – the game most widely played in serious poker. Prosecutor Graham Trembath accepted there was an element of skill but said ultimately the game depended on the turn of a card.

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