The Gujarat High court has sought a response from the state government to a complaint by the Indian Poker Association with regard to police illegally restraining a club from allowing poker to be played, reports the Times of India.
The game was hosted at the YCMA club in Ahmedabad, and the club mentions that the authorities were alerted in advance of their plans. Since no money was being bet, the organizers did not need to apply for a no objection certificate. After police interference, the IPA moved to the high court, requesting the court to declare the restrictions on the game by the police as illegal and arbitrary.
The IPA also said that poker was a game of skill, and like other card games like rummy, nap and bridge, is not gambling. The agency further said that poker did not fall under the Gujarat Prevention of Gambling Act.
Interestingly, earlier in April, the governor of Nagaland gave his assent to the ”The Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill” Bill, which lists card based games like Rummy and Poker, quizzes and strategy games, and virtual sports (including virtual Cricket, virtual racing games) and adventure, virtual stock trading, as well as fantasy leagues as “Games of Skill”.
At the time we mentioned that this could lead to other states also allowing betting and wagering with money in online games, as well as on games of skill. Remember that the Lodha Committee report on the BCCI recommends legalization of betting on sports. There is still the issue of state-specific jurisdiction with respect to gambling, and a negative ruling in Gujarat would complicate the implications of the legalization in Nagaland.
Note that the state government of Sikkim has also authorized 4 gaming and lottery licenses. It is one of the 3 states that allows casinos in India – the others being Goa and Daman.