Legal poker in Kerala, one of India’s largest regions, could soon become a reality thanks to the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF).
At present, the game of poker is classified as a gambling activity and therefore banned within the region under the terms of the Kerala Gaming Act, 1960.
However, with other regions in India now offering legal real money poker in casinos and online, the AIGF is pushing for change in Kerala.
Poker is a Skill Game
Lobbying Additional Chief Secretary (Home and Vigilance) Nalini Netto, the pro-poker organization made the case that poker is a game of skill and should be exempt from the terms of the Kerala Gaming Act.
Following the news that the government was considering updating its list of exempted skill games, AIGF CEO Roland Landers and gaming lawyer Jay Sayta met with Netto to discuss the status of poker.
Likening it other skills games such as chess and rummy, the pair said that as well as opening the doors for a poker boom in the region, legalized real money poker would benefit the local economy.
Suggesting that poker could improve everything from tourism, hospitality and technology, AIGF believes Kerala should now follow Karnataka, West Bengal and Nagaland by removing it from the “banned” list.
Potentially Positive for Poker as a Whole
While the logistics of legalized poker in the region would need to be discussed before the market could thrive, the acceptance of the game in Kerala could certainly help to boost the poker economy in India.
The country has often been cited as a possible source for the next poker boom, but so far the reality has fallen short of predictions.
Thanks to a combination of unclear regulation and market access for remote operators, India hasn’t quite hit the heights many expected but there is still time.
In fact, if the government accepts poker as a game of skill in Kerala then it would open the game up to a population of more than 34 million.
By way of comparison, that’s just over half the size of the UK which has always been one of the largest poker nations in the world.
Of course, to suggest Kerala could generate 50% of the UK’s £260 million+ ($341 million+) in a single year just because it has a population of 34 million is crazy.
However, it’s certainly not ridiculous to suggest that legalized poker in Kerala could be extremely lucrative both in local terms and for the industry at large.