Chess Gambling – The Legal Issues

Gambling, as defined by law in many countries, is only considered so when one wagers either on a game of chance (one with a significant luck factor that overrides any/all skill elements) or on a contest of skill in which one’s self is not a participant.images-48

It is interesting to note that it is these elements that are allowing poker to be legal in more and more areas – due to the fact that it has been proven that over a long period of time the overriding element in poker is the relative skills of the players, and not the not-so-insignificant deal of the cards. As chess has “no” luck factor, as long as one is betting on one’s own skill, and not someone else’s game, it’s not gambling and is perfectly legal. This is not always the case, however. It is advisable to always check local laws first.

Putting money on the outcome of a chess game with someone else in the park or at a café is not that different from buying an entry fee to a tournament and playing for prize money. By signing up, you’re basically agreeing that the player with a higher skill level (and who uses that skill appropriately) will take home a greater share of them money. This is why chess tournaments aren’t illegal. They are based on skill.

Chess for cash is a popular form of chess gambling. This happens in chess clubs, parks, cafes, and even bookstores. Playing for money doesn’t exclude playing amazing chess, nor does it undermine its integrity. All the Grand Masters have, at one time or another, played for money, whether that be through tournaments, matches, or side games. At major tournaments, you will also find what are known as ‘skittles rooms’. Skittles rooms are separate rooms where players can relax, eat and chat. Blitz games are played here, for cash.

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