There has never really been much clarity on the status of online poker within the country of India. However, it seems as though any kind of steps forward in this area have taken blow after blow in recent time. And here comes another one, as the New Delhi High Court has asked for governmental clarification on its status.
Two Public Interest Litigations (PILs) were submitted recently, and representatives from the High Court went into action on November 28. On behalf of the court, Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C. Harishankar stood, and they called both the central and Delhi governments to treat them as representations. To put this in a simpler form, the High Court has requested that the two governments take a decision on whether or not poker is considered as a legal activity in India.
With this being the route that the High Court is taking, it once again opens up the debate over whether poker is a game of skill or luck. If you were to believe states such as Gujarat, then poker is considered very much as a game of chance there, and this makes it an illegal activity. However, other regions, such as Nagaland, it is considered a game of skill, and so remains as a legal option for residents.
It is this difference of opinion over poker that keeps things disjointed within India. That being said, online poker has been able to grow somewhat in the country. Nagaland actually created its own licensing system, giving both local and international operators the chance to involve themselves in the country’s poker market. Even PokerStars has created its own Indian site for players to access various games and tournaments.
What Happens from Here Onwards?
Any sort of negative ruling against poker would definitely set the industry back in general, although the main problem with regard to this is how the game is perceived in the country. Because India is considered as an emerging market, many people aren’t actually informed or educated in the nuances of it. Due to that fact and the addition of the different governmental attitudes towards poker, there’s little doubt that it would cause confusion in the country over it.
Should New Delhi’s High Court proceed to state that poker is a form of gambling, that could filter into the psyche of the public, which could give the idea that poker, whether online or offline, is illegal. After all, New Delhi is the overall capital of India, and people are often inclined to believe the statements of powerful entities.
Fortunately, whatever the High Court decides, it shouldn’t affect the Indian states that have already chosen to legalise poker. Therefore, it should remain as a safe and accessible activity within those areas. It remains to be seen how things will turn out with the ruling, although the last thing India really needs in terms of its poker scene, is more confusion over the status of the game.