K N Suresh wins landmark court ruling, poker legal in Kolkata

07 July 2015

A single man from Bangalore, India, K N Suresh made poker history by winning a landmark case in the state courts, providing poker a legal status Kolkata. With the popularity of poker in India, the legal atmosphere surrounding it also has to change. For many it is a means of socializing and recreation, quite a few of the upper middle-class enjoy weekend poker evenings in place of parties and clubs. The favourable and conducive legislation passed in the eastern state of West Bengal, has included poker in the category of skill-based card games.

As far as poker is concerned, its exemption from the West Bengal Prize Competition and Gambling Act, 1957, has made conducting poker events for cash a legally sanctioned event. There are numerous poker enthusiasts in the city of Kolkata, who lauded this win as a historic one for the growth of poker in the city. However, on a cautionary note, in West Bengal, according to Section 12, of the West Bengal Prize Competition and Gambling Act permission is still required from the District Magistrate of the concerned district or the Commissioner of Kolkata for holding such games of skill in public locations.

Up until now card games conducted by organisers, owners and participants are considered to be gambling and persons were arrested under the 1957 Act. Poker is now considered a legitimate form of gaming but it is still necessary to have the right amusement and entertainment license from authorities according to the Bengal Amusements Act, 1922. Entertainment licenses are issued for conducting various games like video-games, pool-tables etc., by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Poker and rummy are both mentioned in the list of games requiring an entertainment license and such a license would still be a requisite for conducting a poker game by collecting cash from participants.

The gaming statute over-riding the existing Act of 1957 would require the district magistrate, municipal authorities and police authorities to grant the license and to provide permission for hosting poker tournaments in the State.


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