A legal wrangle over the definition of gambling was settled in the Court of Appeal today.

This follows an advertising campaign by TV Works, the operating company of TV 3 and C4, for the online Asia pacific poker tournament in late 2007.

The ads caught the attention of the Department of Internal Affairs, who claimed that TV Works had breached the Gambling Act when they promoted a foreign gambling operator in New Zealand.

Advertising overseas gambling operators or events is prohibited in New Zealand and carries a mandatory fine of $10,000.


An Auckland District Court ruled TV Works was not in breach of the Act.

However the Department disputed the ruling and took the case to the High Court, which found in favour of the Department - ruling the judge misinterpreted the Gambling Act.

TV Works appealed the High Court ruling, stating that the advertised tournament did not constitute gambling as defined by law.

They argued players in the tournament did not wager money on the outcome of individual games, but rather played towards winning a pool of money made up from the tournament entry fees.

TV Works also took issue with the fact the Department of Internal Affairs had defined poker as "game of chance".

They argued poker is a game of skills and chance, comparing it to sports like rugby or golf which requires a substantial amount of skill from the participant.

The High Court dismissed TV Works' appeal regarding the definition of gambling but agreed that poker was not a game of chance alone and required a considerable amount of skill.

TV Works are required to pay court fees but there was no ruling on a fine.