Application to allow poker & rummy quashed by Gujarat HC

Mon / November / 2017

In recent poker news in India, the Gujarat High Court retracted a petition submitted previously requesting allowance of poker rooms and poker gaming in the community clubs of Gujarat. The man behind this pioneering petition filed as criminal petition to the Gujarat High Court is Mr. Samit Bharabhai Patel, an owner of a club in Gujarat. He demanded that the local police in association with the Department of Sports and Culture, should issue a No Objection Certificate (NOC) or grant his club a license to provide the service of hosting poker and rummy games in his club.

His petition was based on the argument that both rummy as well as poker comes under skill based strategy games wherein the element of chance is unavoidable, but not the most important factor. He appealed that his club would simply offer the members a peaceful gaming environment without any illegalities or qualms with the state laws. His petition also requested that the local police along with other local governing bodies should not intervene in the proceedings of the poker room. But sadly, the High Court was not convinced with his reasoning behind the petition. The single judge bench headed by Justice JB Pardiwala quashed the petition and dismissed the case at the admission level itself, without any additional justification. The petition was retracted by the high court of 17th November, 2017, Friday.

The argument made by the state government against the legalization of mind games such as poker and rummy, has always been based on the old perceptions of amalgamating the games as gambling. The government states that if the games were to be legalized it would expose the citizens to great financial risks, which may cause the disruption of the existing family set-up due to the proneness to addiction with the games.

However, it is noteworthy to be mentioned that under the Public Gambling Act 1867, which has been amended on several occasions, the Section 12 states – ““Act not to apply to certain games. Nothing in the foregoing provisions of this Act contained shall be held to apply to any game of mere skill wherever played”. But these guidelines have often been misinterpreted due to the intentional underlining ambiguity with the clause.

But the Supreme Court had previously ruled in this matter stating all strategic card games as legal in the country. However, it has not mentioned any proper definition as to what strategic card games may be. The court has still left the final verdict on criminalizing or decriminalizing the matter of legality of poker or other card games in the hands of the state governments for respective states.

Media reporting online poker news India are still waiting on the hearing of the separate Gujarat high court bench headed by Justice Shukla, which will deliver a detailed verdict on the petition retraction, the legality of the card games and poker which was previously submitted by a group of poker club owners in Gujarat jointly. The hearing was dated to be held on 23rd November, 2017, and was filed by KN Suresh. He filed the petition on behalf of the Indian Poker Association, AAA Gaming, Hotel Ramada, Dominance Games Pvt. Ltd and other poker clubs.

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