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Updated: June 27, 2023

Poker Legality In India

Poker legality in India has long been a topic of debate and confusion. While some argue that the game is purely a game of skill and therefore should be legal, others claim that it involves elements of chance and is therefore a form of gambling, let’s talk more about poker legality.

Is Online Poker Legal in India?

In India, gambling is largely prohibited by the Public Gambling Act of 1867, which states that “whoever keeps or uses any common gaming house, or allows any such house to be kept or used on premises under his control, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both”.

However, there are exceptions to this law, such as games of skill like chess and rummy, which are legal in most parts of India. This has led to the question of whether poker falls under the category of a game of skill or a game of chance.

In a landmark ruling in 2015, the High Court of Karnataka ruled that poker is a game of skill and is, therefore not covered by the Public Gambling Act. The court stated that “the game of poker, when played as a game of skill, is not a game of chance, and is therefore not covered by the provisions of the Public Gambling Act, 1867.”
This ruling was based on the fact that poker involves significant amounts of strategy and skill, and that the outcome of a game is largely determined by the player’s ability to make strategic decisions. The court also noted that poker is widely recognized as a sport in many countries worldwide, further supporting the argument that it is a game of skill.

Despite this ruling, the legality of poker in India remains a grey area. Some states, such as Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, have specifically banned poker, while others, such as Goa, have legalized it. In most other states, the legality of poker is unclear and it is generally considered to be a “grey area”.

This lack of clarity has led to the proliferation of underground poker clubs and illegal gambling operations, which operate without any oversight or regulation. This puts players at risk of being cheated and also poses a threat to public safety, as these underground operations often involve criminal elements.

In order to address these issues and provide a clear legal framework for the game, there have been calls for the Indian government to regulate and legalize poker. This would provide a safe and controlled environment for players and generate revenue for the government through licensing and taxation.

Some several organizations and clubs promote the game of poker as a skill-based game and advocate for its legalization. The All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) is one such organization that has been working to promote the game and provide a platform for players to compete legally.

In conclusion, while the legality of poker in India remains a contentious issue, it is clear that the game involves significant amounts of skill and strategy. The ruling by the High Court of Karnataka in 2015 has provided a strong argument in favor of poker being considered a game of skill, and there have been calls for the government to regulate and legalize the game in order to provide a safe and controlled environment for players.

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