LONDON -- Legions of bridge players in Britain may feel they've been dealt a rotten hand after a court decision endorsed an earlier ruling that the popular card game is not a sport.

A High Court judge on Thursday backed Sport England's assertion that bridge is not a sport because it does not involve physical activity. English Bridge Union officials had challenged the ruling in court.

Judge Ian Dove said in his ruling that he had not been tasked with answering the "broad, somewhat philosophical question" of whether bridge is a sport but simply whether Sport England had committed any legal errors in reaching its conclusion.

The decision will affect possible lottery funding for bridge tournaments.

Advocates for bridge had claimed that Parliament recognizes "mind sports" that build mental acuity.

Disheartened bridge advocates say the "old fashioned" definition means that model airplane flying is viewed as a sport while bridge is not.

"An opportunity has been lost to enhance an activity which has substantial benefits to wide sections of the community," said Jeremy Dhondy, chairman of the English Bridge Union.

Sport England officials said they recognize how challenging and popular bridge has become but that playing the game does nothing to improve the country's physical fitness levels.

Director Phil Smith said the court ruling "confirms that we have acted correctly by adopting a definition of sport that requires physical activity."

The agency, which plays a role in distributing national lottery funds, also does not view chess as a sport.