Poker in India Dealt Blow as Gujarat High Court Dismisses Skill-Game Petition

December 4th, 2017 by Daniel Smyth

Poker in India has been dealt another blow by the Gujarat High Court after a petition to have it recognized as a game of skill was rejected.

Indian state of Gujarat

With a population of nearly 63 million, Gujarat has more potential poker players that California and Florida combined. (Image: Wikimedia)

Following a series of back-and-forth between representatives from India’s emergent poker industry and the law courts, players in the state of Gujarat have finally been given the bad news. After some delay, according to a report by glaws.in, Justice Rajesh H. Shukla his dismissed a civil petition that sought to define poker as a game of skill.

Industry Advocates Make Their Case

A series of police raids on local card clubs first prompted the Indian Poker Association (IPA) to petition the courts to redefine poker. Backed by Dominance Games, AAA Gaming, and poker clubs in the Indian state of Gujarat, the IPA submitted a mound of evidence to prove poker is a game of skill.

If this strategy worked, the game would not be considered illegal gambling.

During the hearings, which ran from July to September 2017, the IPA brought in two expert witnesses. Using a combination of tournament results, video footage and hand analysis, professional players Abhishek Goindi and Aditya Wadhwani attempted to demonstrate that poker isn’t a game based on luck.

Uncertainty for Poker in India

Despite the presentations, Justice Shukla rejected the petition that would’ve removed poker from the remit of the Gujarat Prevention of Gambling Act. The decision comes just two weeks after the state of Telangana pushed through a bill that outlaws online betting poker and rummy.

As it stands, India’s poker industry is in a state of conflict. While Gujarat and Telangana have moved to make real money games illegal, the state of Nagaland has actively promoted regulation, after passing a law in April 2016 to make online poker (and rummy) legal.

Khelo365.com was the first site to be licensed in India and, today, the industry is starting to thrive in Nagaland. However, with other states harboring different views on the game and its place on the gambling spectrum, it may be some time before India fulfils its potential as a major poker economy.

3 Responses to “Poker in India Dealt Blow as Gujarat High Court Dismisses Skill-Game Petition”

  1. Hk says:

    While there is luck involved in the game, poker also involves math and phychology.

    India must abolish the teaching of math and pstchology in their schools to be consistent with this judgement

  2. BentleyBoy says:

    So! The debate goes on! And the confusion continues to exist with a country where different regions have a different approach to legalisation or otherwise (where have we heard that before?). It may be that some states enforce rules to satisfy themselves of the current stance on an issue so that they do not have to undergo change! Ah! There we go! Change. Mans greatest virtue and yet the one thing that man continually argues against when it means something new and different, even if it would make things better. The alternative view may be that hey! While gambling is unlawful, then there is money to be made by those who want to take the risk of being caught!

  3. YouDieToday says:

    It’s clear that opinions differ worldwide about whether or not poker is a skill game. I agree that it’s based on luck, but also on skill. Being able to bluff, mess with other player’s heads. You’re not battling against the dealer, but against other players.

    You need the odds in your favor (and even then hope for the best), but with skill you can trick a player with the winning hand into folding.

    In my opinion, poker is way more skill-based than all those other casino games. Perhaps I’m just being ignorant because I don’t really understand the other casino games, but it feels to me like those other casino games give you way less chances of winning than poker, since poker is a battle against other players instead of the dealer.

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