An India poker room, hosting its first poker tournament, was raided by police, and the motive remains unknown. The tournament was promptly cancelled due to the raid with 60 of the 75 entrants remaining. Play never resumed.
Stars Poker Room, located in Indiranagar, India, was recently granted permission by the city to host poker games after the Bengaluru High Court ruled that poker is a game of skill and not a standard form of gambling.
Not His First Rodeo
Rajeev Raut, the poker room’s operator, is no stranger to police raids. He previously co-promoted the nearby Rockets Poker Room, and got into a heap of trouble last year when that room allegedly offered illegal casino games.
Raut left Rockets and took over at Stars, but now finds himself in a similar situation. He didn’t offer up any reason why his current poker room was raided, but did assure area poker players they can continue playing at Stars.
“With great regret have to announce the cancellation of Stars Poker Series. Really thankful to all the supporters who stood by. We are still continuing cash games & Sit’n’Go Games at IPA Stars,” he said in a Facebook post.
Stars Poker Room and the Indian Poker Association (IPA) team together to operate the poker room. The partnership, which originated in October, came together to help bolster India’s burgeoning poker industry.
The logo they created and the room name makes it appear that it is affiliated with online site PokerStars (which does have a sponsored Team India), but as far as we can tell, the two companies are unaffiliated. We’re guessing the land-based room in India may soon be getting a friendly call from a PokerStars attorney, asking them to have lunch, if you get our meaning.
If this is the kind of due diligence that the India brick-and-mortar room does, it could explain the raid.
Indian Poker Association
The IPA is similar to the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) in America. Instead of fighting for online poker legalization, the IPA fought long and hard to get live poker games in India, and has been quite successful.
In 2013, thanks in large part to IPA founder KN Suresh’s efforts, Bangalore’s highest court made a historic decision to allow poker games to run legally there. The Bangalore High Court ruled in Suresh’s favor after agreeing that poker is a game of skill.
Together, the IPA and Stars Poker Room formed a partnership that has been mutually beneficial, but the IPA has yet to comment publicly on the poker tournament raid. The event, Stars Poker Series, was the poker room’s first-ever tournament series.
Players were escorted out of the poker room by police, but none were arrested. It remains unclear the specific reason for the raid and what the future holds for Stars Poker Room.
Although poker was ruled a legal game of skill in Bangalore, local authorities still closely monitor the actions of the poker rooms. It is also unclear if Raut or anyone connected to Stars Poker Room will be charged with any crimes.