The Gujarat High Court has received a second petition to allow poker games in the state.
The hotel, according to the report, had filed a request before the state government, municipal authorities and local police station to allow it to hold the game of poker in its premises. MaulinPandya, lawyer for Hotel Ramada, said the police did not respond to representations made by his client, which led to the hotel management to push through with organizing the game.
The poker game, however, was halted after the Anandnagar police station called the station.
Pandya told the court that poker is a game of skill, citing legislative and judicial precedents in India and other countries like the United States to support the argument. The lawyer also said that in Karnataka, West Bengal, Sikkim and Nagaland, the game is allowed to be played freely. However, it was unclear if Hotel Ramada wanted to offer poker games for stakes or if it would be taking a commission from the amount staked.
After hearing the matter, Justice C LSoni directed the state government, police and municipal authorities to respond to the petition and listed the matter for hearing on January 12, 2017.
This is the second petition heard by the Gujarat High Court over the issue of allowing poker games in the state, but this is the first petition that came from a hotel—normally, it’s the recreational not-for-profit clubs that seek permission from the high court to allow its members to play card games.
In October, the Gujarat high court was asked to step in to resolve the issue of whether poker is considered a form of gambling or a game of skill in the state. The Indian Poker Association (IPA), a group representing India’s poker players, filed a petition with the high court accusing the state government of authorizing law enforcement agencies to break up an IPA-hosted poker game at a local YMCA club. The petition was also filed through Pandya, who claimed that the police’s action was “illegal” and “arbitrary,” since poker is considered to be a “game of skill,” meaning it is not covered under the Gujarat Prevention of Gambling Act, 1987.
Gujarat’s High Court has previously dismissed charges brought against clubs in which rummy was played based on the skill game designation that rummy has been granted. Elsewhere, High Courts in Karnataka and Kolkata have ruled that clubs offering poker played as a game of skill didn’t require licenses.