Playing poker at home or in a bar: is it legal?

Maybe you have never asked yourself this question: Is it legal to play poker in a bar or at home with friends? As a card game, very often we do not associate it with breaking the law while enjoying a game with friends. We are facing one of the most popular card games in the world, which has been gaining more and more followers over the years.

Who doesn't enjoy a good after-dinner chat accompanied by a friendly game of poker? If you have tried it, surely you have felt like playing several hands in the company of your friends one afternoon. But the truth is that poker, based on betting, is governed by a different legislation than other card games such as brisca or cinquillo.

However, it is very common to organize poker games in a friendly way in the intimacy of homes, in the company of your loved ones with whom, surely, you handle bets with chickpeas and not with money.

We cannot deny it, poker is a very fun game in which large amounts of money do not always move, not even money becomes the objective of the game in these cases. The fun, the laughs, having a good time and, of course, the adrenaline at the possibility of having a good hand when the river is uncorked, make poker one of the great kings of card games.

Even so, given that the law is very strict and clear on the subject of gambling and betting, we tell you what you need to know to avoid being punished for breaking the law.

Playing poker in a bar

Let's get straight to the point. In public places, playing poker, even without betting money, is an infraction. The law of some autonomous communities establishes that poker is a game exclusive to casinos and, as such, it must be played in casinos. It may happen that, actually, no money is being bet, that it is a friendly game between friends who, instead of choosing dominoes, have preferred poker. However, the law is implacable and it is true that the just pay for the sinners.

This would be the case in the Community of Castilla y León, Catalonia, Madrid or the Valencian Community. Apparently, there is a correlation between the rise of illegal gambling and the expansion of this popular card game which, in recent years, has spread among families and friends. On the other hand, poker is sometimes an economic activity that evades taxation. In addition, in order to guarantee a certain "order" and the payment of debts generated by the games, the security surrounding poker games is often called into question.

In order to reverse this situation, the different communities set out to tighten the law and to consider poker games outside casinos as an illegal practice.

Playing poker at home

The same situation can be found at home. Organizing poker games with family or friends in the privacy of your home, even if you do not bet money and you only play a few chickpeas, is a violation of the law.

In fact, there have been cases in which the National Police have dismantled poker tournaments organized in homes. You may ask yourself, isn't there a legal way to play poker with my friends at home? The answer is yes, but it is complicated. To avoid problems with the authorities in case they break into your house by surprise - the National Police raid your home from time to time to dismantle illegal poker games - you will have to ask for a permit or an authorization to exercise the activity of the game.

This authorization entails a multitude of requirements that make it an arduous and difficult task to obtain. On the other hand, the fines for playing poker outside the premises authorized for this purpose - casinos - can reach high figures, reaching up to 30,000 euros for the organizer of the event. For the participants, the fine is 3,000 euros.

Online poker as an alternative

Alongside casinos, where it is completely legal to play poker, online poker has emerged as one of the great options for poker fans. One of the great attractions of this variant is the possibility of facing rivals from all over the world.

The online poker rooms present a series of advantages such as, for example, playing at more than one table simultaneously. In addition, you have the possibility to play more hands in less time. 

As far as the law is concerned, online poker rooms are completely safe and legal in Spain.

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