Why online poker should be regulated in India?

14 April 2013

The poker scenario in India is young compared to other parts of the globe. Poker in India is still emerging, but it is growing massively considering the uncertainty surrounding the legal landscape of the game. At the offline casinos in Goa and Sikkim – the only two states where offline casinos are legal – the action in the poker tables is booming.

In India, the big question of whether poker is a game of skill or a game of chance is unanswered at this moment in time. To many (of course including us), poker is clearly a skill game, but let´s see what current Indian rules say:

Gambling or gaming in India has been defined by the Supreme Court in 1996 as betting and wagering on games of chance only.

The Supreme Court in this judgment specifically excludes games of skill, irrespective of whether they are played for money or not, from the definition of gambling.

The 1968 Supreme Court ruling declared rummy to be a game of skill, and in 1996 also stated that:
“A game of skill, on the other hand – although the element of chance necessarily cannot be entirely eliminated –is one in which success depends principally upon the superior knowledge, training, attention, experience and adroitness of the player. Golf, chess and even Rummy are considered to be games of skill. The Courts have reasoned that there are few games, if any, which consist purely of chance or skill, and as such a game of chance is one in which the element of chance predominates over the element of skill, and a game of skill is one in which the element of skill predominates over the element of chance. It is the dominant element –”skill” or “chance” — which determines the character of the game.”

So we can assume that games of skills in India enjoy a much bigger protection legally that those that involve chance.

Providing no rake is taken, it is perfectly legal to play poker in your own home and therefore organized home games are becoming increasingly popular. Also, despite many doubts on legality, the use of online poker sites is becoming more and more common, especially after recent rules passed by tax authorities where all cash winnings in offline casinos in India have to be taxed 30%.

People in India want to play poker, and if we can learn something in gaming history, is that if people want to play cards, they will…

While there are many poker groups in various metros that organize tournaments and cash games, even the smaller towns are showing interest in the game. A good indicator of all this is the great number of poker groups that have generated on social sites like Facebook or Twitter. The internet is proving to be an effective catalyst in bringing together poker enthusiasts locally as well as from all over the country.

Many people in India believe gambling should be legalised and regulated.

If poker was legalized and regulated in India then it could also be taxed. Given the amount of money illegally gambled in India is believed to amount to several billion dollars, then the tax revenues that could be generated could be very significant.

Regulation could also mean guidelines to be set out so gambling operators would have responsibilities to provide fair and safe gambling enviorment, and ensure that vulnerable people (such as minors and compulsive gamblers) were protected.


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