A professional poker player has been allowed to keep his winnings and avoid paying child support.
The four year court battle ended when the Court of Appeal ruled that Tony Hakki’s winnings were not from “gainful employment” and therefore did not meet the regulations governing the payment of child support.
The mother of Mr Hakki’s children, Devrise Blair, argued that he should be forced to pay child support out of his winnings because gambling was Mr. Hakki’s ‘trade or profession’.
However, she lost her case after three Court of Appeal judges ruled in Mr Hakki’s favour.
In a written ruling Lord Justice Longmore said: “(Mr Hakki) is a professional poker player in the sense that he supports himself from his winnings at poker.
“He declines to support his children and the mother has made an application to the Child Support Agency for an order that he pay child support maintenance.”
The court heard how Mr Hakki is a successful professional gambler who is known in the poker world as ‘the Hitman Hakki’. Despite winning significant sums of money through his gambling, Mr Hakki refuses to pay child maintenance to Ms Blair. As a result she asked the Child Support Agency to order the father of her children to pay maintenance, comparing him to a professional sportsman.
However, Lord Justice Longmore sitting in the Court of Appeal refused to order him to pay child maintenance saying “On the facts found, I do not consider that it can be said that Mr Hakki had a sufficient organisation in his poker playing to make it amount to a trade (or a business), let alone a profession or a vocation.”
Appeal judges Lord Justice Patten and Lord Justice Pitchford agreed with the judgement of Lord Longmore, both ruling in Mr Hakki’s favour.