The game of poker continues to grow rapidly in India and most states in the country will soon have to make a decision that the state of Gujarat has now been forced to make when it comes to determining whether poker is a game of chance or a game of skill.
The authorities in Gujarat decided to raid the YMCA International club in Ahmedabad targeting the poker games that were being held. The authorities broke up the game as gambling was illegal in the state and cautioned the YMCA from holding such games. The Indian Poker Association (IPA) had entered into an agreement with the YMCA in September to hold regular poker games as it wanted to promote poker throughout the country and find top poker players who could represent India in international poker tournaments around the world.
The IPA immediately responded to the raids by filing a petition with the Gujarat High Court claiming that the authorities do not have just cause to forbid poker in the state as it was a game of skill and not of chance. The filing also stated that IPA Secretary KN Suresh had approached the authorities about holding poker games at the YMCA but “the officers have been dilly-dallying and evading the petitioner on one pretext or the other and refusing to endorse the application and has instead orally intimated the petitioner to cease his activities failing which he will be visited with dire consequences.”
Justice Sonia Gokani heard the argument presented by the IPA’s legal representatives and then asked the state government to review the game of poker and make a final decision to whether poker should be classified as ‘chance’ or ‘skill’. The hearing has been adjourned until November 9 and the Gujarat government’s decision on the matter could have significant repercussions for the poker industry throughout India.
Gambling is currently permitted only in Goa, Daman and Sikkim but there are a number of other states such as Maharashtra, Kerala and Hyderabad that are looking into the game of poker and classifying it as a game of skill. If the Gujarat government deems poker to be a game of skill, it will no longer fall under the Gujarat Prevention of Gambling Act of 1987. Should the courts rule in favor of the IPA, it will encourage more poker clubs in the state to flourish and could create a lucrative poker industry in Gujarat.