India poker ‘skill v. luck’ hearing delay; betting software developer busted

india-police-service-supreme-courtAuthorities in India have arrested a man for designing online betting software that he sold to at least 12 illegal bookies. Ekanksh Rajendrakumar Jain had been arrested in Mumbai in June on suspicion of accepting illegal wagers on sporting events. On Saturday, authorities in Pune, India’s seventh largest city, raided Jain’s residence, seizing various computer gear, 27 mobile phones, 12 SIM cards and Rs 1.2m (US $20k) in cash. Sports betting is wildly popular in India but remains illegal despite recognition that the current prohibition is unworkable.

Jain reportedly sold his betting software to at least 12 bookies across the country but maintained control of the software from his flat, charging each individual bookie Rs 2.5m ($41k) to maintain their online presence as well as taking a cut of their profits. The SIM cards seized by the Pune police utilized the same phone numbers as those seized during Jain’s Mumbai arrest. Pune senior inspector Sushama Chavan told the Times of India that the numbers were obtained by “furnishing bogus documents in the names of dead people.” The investigation into the full scope of Jain’s activities is ongoing.

Meanwhile, India’s eagerly awaited court decision on the legality of poker and other card games has been delayed. India’s Supreme Court has set a Nov. 12 date to consider arguments on the eternal debate over whether the outcomes of games like poker and rummy are determined more by skill or luck. Lower courts have split on this question and the Supreme Court was called upon to deliver a Solomon-worthy verdict. Interested parties submitted petitions last month but the Court announced it needed more time to consider the potential implications of their decision.

If the Supremes were to side with the Kamataka High Court’s view that games like poker are predominantly determined by the skill of the player, the government will be called upon to craft uniform regulations that would apply in all Indian states. The government may also choose to hire more traffic cops to prevent international online poker companies from trampling each other in their attempts to corral their piece of a staggeringly vast market.

A recent social gaming study by mobile analytics group Flurry found that India outpaced all other nations in their use of the Cards & Casino category. India’s social gamers played an average of 68 Cards & Casino sessions per month, over twice the global average. If even a fraction of these players wish to try their luck – sorry, skill! – at playing for non-virtual stakes, the return on investment could be massive.