WITH much regret, I have to report the closure of two poker clubs here on the Costa del Sol after raids by the police within the last month. The old adage that there are two sides to every story is so true here as I am able to report from both sides of the fence, having been a club owner and also promoting the Marbella Mob in their new ventures with Casino Marbella.
The facts are this; that it is illegal to gamble, including playing poker, in the region of Andalucía other than at government-sanctioned and licensed premises that include The Hippodromo race track in Mijas Costa, Casinos at San Roque, Seville, Torrequebrada and Marbella, and all outlets licensed to sell Lottery tickets.
For years there have been poker clubs operating here on the Costa del Sol, but Casinos were first granted permissions for tournament poker in 2007 and then introduced cash games in February 2010.
The problem is the Junta have no understanding of this new social and recreational pastime of Texas Hold-em and therefore categorised it as gambling, which means that it is subject to being licensed, only allowed to be played at Casinos, and therefore subject to taxation at the same very high levels as Roulette and Blackjack.
This has forced the Casinos to play games at a cost that can be prohibitive to the general recreational player in order to cover costs for dealers and tournament directors.
The dilemma is that if you don’t have beginner and feeder clubs to introduce and supply new players for the Casino numbers will drop and so it becomes ultimately unprofitable. There is an absolute need to cater for low cost recreational poker.
Let’s hope they come up with a solution soon.
Visit www.marbellamobpoker.com for more info.
By David Dancey