The Gujarat High Court was expected to make a decision during the fourth week of November on whether poker could be legalized in the state. Justice Rajesh H. Shukla of the Gujarat High Court postponed the decision to the first week of December and gave no reason for the delay.
Gujarat Rejects Poker Push
Justice Rajesh H. Shukla has finally made his decision and dismissed the petition filed by the Indian Poker Association (IPA), AAA Gaming Pvt. Ltd and Dominance Games Pvt. Ltd. A number of poker clubs in the state had joined forces to file a petition to get the courts to rule in favour of recognizing poker as a game of skill.
Poker is classified as gambling in the majority of Indian states as it is recognized as a game of chance. The poker petition filed in the Gujarat High Court attempted to change this perception and convince the courts that poker is a mind game similar to chess. However the High Court did not find the evidence sufficient enough to classify poker as a game of skill and revoke the ban on poker being played in the state.
The High Court released a court order which confirms that the ban on poker will continue in Gujarat. During the last 12 months, the authorities raided a number of poker clubs in the state and shut them down stating that they were running an illegal gambling den. These poker clubs tried to fight back by taking the legal route to get the current ban on poker lifted but have failed so far. The petitioners are determined to fight back and have promised to appeal the verdict before a division of the Gujarat High Court.
Indian Poker Market Faces Setbacks
This ruling against the legalization of poker in Gujarat is another setback for poker operators and players in India. The Telangana legislature also decided to dismiss a bill that called for the legalization of poker in November. This is yet another setback for the IPA who is campaigning for poker to be made legal throughout the country.
International operators such as PokerStars estimate India’s poker market to be around $80 million and are eager to launch operations in the country and tap into this lucrative market. However, for that to happen more states will have to amend their current gaming laws and lift the ban on poker.