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In the troubling times as per the legality of poker in the United States, it is refreshing to see one country embracing the beauty of the game. Lithuania and its government’s Department of Physical Education and Sports have officially recognized poker as a sport. They’ve named the Lithuanian Sports Poker Federation, or LSPF, as an official sports federation. This distinction is sure to boost poker’s popularity in Lithuania as well as allow for online poker sites based in Lithuania which is currently banned by law.

This recognition as an official sports organization gives the LSPF the power to organize noncommercial poker tournaments outside of Lithuanian casinos. This means that, just as any other sport can be played recreationally, poker may be played if it does not involve a profit. The LSPF is already in the process of scheduling poker tournaments such as the poker tournament already scheduled in Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, from April 24th through April 26th. This is predicted to be the biggest poker tournament in the Baltic States.

The president of the LSPF, Andrius Tapinas, is a well-known celebrity in Lithuania. He is a popular poker player placing second in the Baltic Open Poker Championship and cashing in the World Series of Poker. He has been quoted as saying: “This is extremely important step in our work. We are receiving congratulations from many of our colleagues abroad and I know that we are breaking thick ice with our progress for similar international initiatives.” Tapinas is correct in his thinking. This breakthrough is certain to help in America’s fight to legalize poker and hopefully break the negative stigma related with poker.

There has been an initiative to make poker an Olympic sport along with Chess, Bridge, and Go. These games would be part of a mind games sect of the Olympics. As ridiculous as it may sound, it would be interesting for poker players to watch. Imagine the Olympics with the likes of Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, and Tom Dwan. The recognition of poker as a sport in Lithuania is sure to help this initiative.