Indian Gujarat Judge Rejects Poker as a Game of Skill ArgumentDecember 5, 2017 2:55 pm
On Monday, Justice Rajesh H. Shukla from the Gujarat High Court rejected the argument put forward by domestic poker operators and the Indian Poker Association (IPA) that poker is a game of skill. Instead, the Justice ruled that there was not sufficient evidence to determine that poker wasn’t instead based on luck, and as a consequence said that poker could therefore not be legalized.
The situation came to a head after a number of local poker clubs were raided by police officers, motivating the IPA and poker operators to subsequently launch their petition in the law courts. The High Court case then lasted from July to September 2017, with a decision expected by the end of November, although a delay meant that the ruling was eventually made over a week later.
During the case, hand analysis and other pertinent data was introduced to the court, while expert witnesses testified as to the skill element of the game, and professional players Aditya Wadhwani and Abhishek Goindi attempted to show that it was the skill element that ultimately determined a winning player. It was also highlighted that the skill element of the game took a considerable amount of learning to master.
The Gujarat High Court’s latest ruling will therefore come as a severe blow to many enthusiasts in the state, who will now face criminal proceedings if found violating the court order by playing at poker clubs in the state. As a result, Gujarat now follows in the footsteps of the state of Telangana which also ruled last month that poker could not be legalized. At present, Nagaland is the sole beacon of hope for India’s poker industry, with the state having passed a law in April of last year legalizing online poker.
India has seen the popularity of poker grow exponentially in recent years, with many international operators having expressed an interest in partnering with domestic operators and entering the market, including PokerStars. In the meantime, competitions such as the Match India Poker League, Poker Sports League, and Global Poker League India have all launched and attracted a measure of interest in the vast country of 1.3 billion people.