Justice Rajesh H. Shukla of the Gujarat High Court dismissed the special civil petition filed by KN Suresh of Indian Poker Association, Dominance Games Pvt. Ltd., AAA Gaming Pvt. Ltd. and other poker clubs that sought recognition of poker as a game of skill and direction to the police to refrain from interfering in the peaceful conduct of the game of poker in their clubs.
Justice Shukla rejected the petitions filed by the poker clubs in an order pronounced today. The matter pertaining to whether poker is a game of skill and consequently whether it can be played for stakes was argued at length from July to September this year after which Justice Shukla had reserved the matter for final orders and listed it on 23rd November.
The matter was listed on board twice, on 23rd November and on 30th November, but a final order was not pronounced on those two dates. Ultimately, Justice Shukla pronounced the final verdict in court today.
Justice Shukla in his order clearly and categorically ruled that poker does not involve a substantial element of skill and falls within the ambit of gambling under the Gujarat Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887. He further said that the letter of the Ahmedabad police commissioner’s office dated 15th March, 2017 is not illegal, arbitrary or against principles of natural justice as the police have merely interpreted the statutory provision under the Gambling Act.
The petitioner clubs have indicated that they would be filing an appeal against this adverse order of Justice Shukla before a division bench of the Gujarat High Court very soon.
The decision of the Gujarat High Court is seen to be a major setback not just for the poker clubs who approached the High Court but also for the online poker and skill games industry in India, as the adverse order of the Gujarat High Court comes just weeks after the Telangana legislature passed a Bill to ban online gambling and skill games played for stakes.
Note: This story has been updated after receiving the order of the Gujarat High Court.