I was reminded last night of an interesting discussion I once read on a message board somewhere. The main thrust was why is it acceptable for a minor to enter a large magic tournament but not a poker tournament.
Naturaly the disscusion delved into the definitions of gambling, with different people arguing that Magic was gambling and that poker tournaments aren't. Most people seamed to agree that the division in eligability seams unjust but there was disagreement over if it should be allowed or not. Most people seamed to fall on the minors should be allowed, probably due to most of the forum members being people who had entered a Magic tournament as a minor at least once.
Dictionary.com tells me that gambling is:
v. gam·bled, gam·bling, gam·bles
1.a) To bet on an uncertain outcome, as of a contest.
1.b)To play a game of chance for stakes.
2) To take a risk in the hope of gaining an advantage or a benefit.
3) To engage in reckless or hazardous behavior: You are gambling with your health by continuing to smoke.
4) To put up as a stake in gambling; wager.
5) To expose to hazard; risk: gambled their lives in a dangerous rescue mission.
6) A bet, wager, or other gambling venture.
7) An act or undertaking of uncertain outcome; a risk: I took a gamble that stock prices would rise.
Now by most of these definitions both Magic and Poker count as gambling. The second definition most clearly places Magic in with gambling though. Magic is most definitely a game of chance and is frequently played for a stake.
From a legal point of view (well at least American law as most of the Internet refers to) there are three requirements for something to be classed as gambling: Consideration, Prize and Chance.
This is requiring an entry fee. Its tied in with the concept of gambling being a risk taking enterprise and their is no risk if you can't loose anything. So American law needs an activity to have an entry fee to be considered gambling.
The other part of risk is reward. Its pretty obvious that this doesn't have to include any actual cash, just things of value.
This is where everything gets very very murky. How can you accurately decide which games are skill or chance based. Some things are very obvious, in craps any method of limiting the naturally randomness of the pair of dice is strictly cheating, as it is in many other games.
Is poker a game of chance? Well yes, but it is not purely chance based. Winning each hand all you can do is try and limit your risk based on which cards you are dealt. Over the course of many hands does your ability to limit risk give the game a significant enough element of strategy to not be considered gambling?
Is Magic a game of chance? Well yes, but it is not purely chance based. Once you've shuffled your hand you can try and out play your opponent to overcome the differences in your draw. Beyond that there is the skill in building your deck and deciding how to sideboard. Nothing gets around the fact that some hands just can't beat other hands in every match-up.
While I don't think that there is much of a difference between Magic and Poker in terms of which is gambling, I do support that minors shouldn't be allowed to play in Poker tournaments but allowed to play in Magic tournaments. I don't mind being a hypocrit at times, just as long as I know I'm doing it.