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IPA moves to Gujarat HC, seeks court intervention in allowing peaceful conduct of poker games

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After successfully filing writ petitions in the Karantaka and Calcutta High Courts, the Indian Poker Association (IPA) has now moved to the Gujarat High Court alleging that the police is not allowing them to conduct poker games in the YMCA club in Ahmedabad.

IPA Secretary Kizhakke Naduvath Suresh in his Special Criminal Application has stated that the game of poker is one involving skill and therefore does not fall within the definition of gaming or gambling as per the Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887 (the gaming law applicable in the state of Gujarat).

The petition filed by IPA came up for hearing on 21st October before Justice Sonia Gokani of the Gujarat High Court. As per news reports, Maulin Pandya, the Advocate representing IPA claimed that his client has entered into an agreement with YMCA Club to start poker at its premises a month ago to promote the game and produce players who can represent India at international tournaments.

However, the Anandnagar police station in Ahmedabad allegedly started harassing him and asked the association and the club authorities to stop poker games or “face consequences”, the petition alleged. Pandya has claimed that the action of the Ahmedabad police is illegal and arbitrary and therefore sought directions from the court to ensure that IPA can conduct poker games in YMCA club smoothly and peacefully.

The petition has cited various Indian and International precedents as well as the legislations in West Bengal and Nagaland which have exempted games like poker, rummy, bridge and nap from the ambit of gambling.  The petition further states that the game of poker involves substantial and preponderant degree of skill, just like rummy or betting on horse-racing (covered by Supreme Court judgments) is and consequently does not fall within the definition of gambling under the Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act.

Justice Gokani on hearing the plea of the petitioners has asked the Gujarat government to file its reply to the allegations made by IPA in its petition. The matter has been listed for hearing on 8th November, when the High Court is likely to pass an order, after hearing both the parties.

Jay has researched extensively on gaming laws and has been cited by various media houses and journals as an expert. He has helped leading newspapers in their stories on gaming laws. Jay completed his B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) degree from NUJS, Kolkata in 2015 and is currently based out of Mumbai.