Dutch minister gets bellicose-update

The bombastic Dutch Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin, who is developing something of a reputation for throwing his weight around and pushing the boundaries of his authority, was at it again this week, warning television and production companies against creating poker entertainment programs.

According to NRC Handelsblad Ballin warned three television broadcasters and a production company to stop making programs about the gambling game of poker during a debate Thursday.

"The broadcasters have overstepped the mark," threatened Ballin in response to calls from two Dutch MPs seeking a more enlightened approach to the game. "These programs give people the idea that poker is completely legal and harmless."

The newspaper reported that under Dutch gambling law, poker may only be played in branches of the state-owned monopoly holder Holland Casino. Playing poker online is illegal and it may only be played in private homes if no money changes hands.

According to the Dutch Poker Association, some 800 000 people in Holland play the game, the paper says.

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