altPOKER is the latest group to launch a bid to be included in the Olympics, joining computer games and more traditional sports such as cricket and netball.


It follows a public campaign on the social networking site Facebook for the card game to be included in the 2012 London Games.


Online gaming company, part of the UK's biggest casino operator, is now backing the bid.


They claim that poker, which historians claim started in Germany in the 15th century, is now one of the fastest-growing games in the world and should be given official recognition by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).


The Advertising Standards Authority in Britain ruled in September that poker can be described as a sport in adverts after complaints about an ad for the gambling site, which featured the line: "Poker is a sport of courage, conviction and confidence".


Officials now claim that poker would fulfil a number of criteria needed to become an Olympic sport, including that it is cross-gender and has a wide international appeal, finally,.


Peter Nolan, a spokesman for, said: "Poker's appeal is global, it transcends gender and age and is the fastest-growing sport in the world - it's ripe for Olympic recognition."


"Millions play every week, millions more watch it on TV, but perhaps more importantly, we've got some world-renowned British players."


A British "Olympic" squad has even been selected, including Victoria Coren, a 35-year-old journalist who is the daughter of the late humourist and radio presenter Alan Coren.


Nolan said; "This fantasy squad is our take on who would best represent Team GB if poker did ever get to Olympic level."


Last month, Ray Mia, the acting chief executive of  United Kingdom eSports Association (UKeSA), the official governing body for the UK's electronic sports community, said that it was their long-term plan to be included as part of the Olympics.


Twenty20 cricket and netball have also launched high-profile campaigns for their sport to be part in the Olympics.


But the earliest any of them can even begin to bid is for the 2020 Olympics.


The programme for the 2012 London Games was set by the IOC at its Session in Singapore in July 2005.


Seven sports - baseball, golf, karate, roller sports, rugby sevens, squash and softball - have been short-listed as possible inclusions on the 2016 Olympic programme.


The IOC is due to announce its decision at its Session in Copenhagen in October 2009.