Legal & Regulatory Poker

Gujarat HC Once Again Adjourns Poker Matter to 5th May

A division bench of the Gujarat High Court comprising of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice AJ Shastri could once again not hear letters patent appeals on the legality of poker in the state and the skill element involved in the game . The new date when the matter is likely to be listed for hearing is 5th May, 2020, when the matter might be heard by a new division bench of the court.

Earlier, the High Court had adjourned were scheduled for arguments on 8th January, 2020 to 17th February, 2020 and observed that daily hearings would be conducted from that date to expedite hearings in the matter, and that the matter could be mentioned to be taken up for hearing.

Again, on 17th February, the matter could not be taken up and was adjourned to 9th March, when it was once again adjourned by two months to May 2020.

The hearings on letters patent appeals filed by Indian Poker Association Secretary KN Suresh, Dominance Games Private Limited, Aman Chhabra and Hotel Ramada, Ahmedabad against a December 2017 single judge bench’s order of the High Court, ruling poker to be a game of chance have been pending for over two and a half years, with little progress and lack of clarity as to by when any decision on the matter would be likely.


Delta Corp Reports Flat Revenues, Lower EBIDTA, 9% jump in Net Profit

Listed online gaming and casino company Delta Corp Limited announced its results for the third quarter of financial year 2019-20.

The company declared that its consolidated net revenues for the period October-December 2019 was Rs. 205.13 crores, which was roughly the same as the revenues it earned for quarter three last year.

Delta’s EBIDTA however declined to Rs. 73.52 crores against Rs. 80.98 crores for the same quarter last year and Rs. 75.47 crores for the September 2019 quarter.

The company’s EBIDTA margin also fell sharply by 320 basis points from 41.7% for Q3 last year to 38.7% this year.

Despite the flattish revenues and reduction in margins, the company’s net profit increased by 9% year-on-year to Rs. 54.90 crores, largely on the back of increased other income and reduced corporate tax liability.

Delta’s wholly owned online gaming subsidiary, Adda52, reported total gross revenue of Rs. 40.29 crores for the quarter, against Rs. 37.05 crore for the same quarter last year, representing approximately 8% year-on-year increase.

Last week, the company had announced that its Nepal subsidiary, Deltin Nepal Private Limited had received a gaming license to operate a casino at the Marriott Hotel in Kathmandu, pursuant to a lease agreement signed with the hotel owners, Everest Hospitality and Hotels Private Limited. Delta Corp has expressed its intention to start casino operations in the five-star property shortly.

Legal & Regulatory Poker

Gujarat HC Defers Poker Matter to 17th February

The Gujarat High Court once again deferred the hearings of letters patent appeals filed against a single judge bench’s order ruling poker to be a game of chance.

A division bench of the High Court comprising of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice AJ Shastri did not hear the appeals that were scheduled for arguments on 8th January, 2020. The court instead adjourned the matter to 17th February, 2020 and observed that daily hearings would be conducted from that date to expedite hearings in the matter.

Letters patent appeals filed by Indian Poker Association Secretary KN Suresh, Dominance Games Private Limited, Aman Chhabra and Hotel Ramada, Ahmedabad against a December 2017 single judge bench’s order ruling poker to be a game of chance  have been pending for over two years now and have seen 22 adjournments till date.

With the court deciding to expedite hearings in the matter from February 2020 onwards, the possibility of getting a conclusive verdict on the legality of poker has increased. The high stakes matter would have implications on the skill games industry within the state of Gujarat and also have wider ramifications for the industry across the country.

Legal & Regulatory

Gujarat HC Poker hearings moved to January 2020

A division bench of the Gujarat High Court comprising of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice AJ Shastri did not hear appeals challenging ban on poker in Gujarat on the scheduled date of 19th December.

Letters patent appeals filed by Indian Poker Association Secretary KN Suresh, Dominance Games Private Limited, Aman Chhabra and Hotel Ramada, Ahmedabad against a single judge bench’s order ruling poker to be a game of chance  have been pending for the last two years, since December 2017, without substantial progress.

On 18th November, 2019, the bench on a plea made by Senior Advocate and Barrister Nakul Dewan representing the appellants recorded that the matter be taken up on 19th December, with permission to mention the matter before the bench on the date.

The High Court had also indicated that it would try to expedite the hearings and ensure early disposal of the appeals.

However, the bench could not hear the matter once again on 19th December due to other matters listed on board. The next date of hearing is now 8th January, 2020.

It remains to be seen if the hearings will gather steam in 2020 or will once again be put in cold storage by the court.

Legal & Regulatory

Delhi HC disposes PILs against online betting, poker

A division bench of the Delhi High Court comprising of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C. Harishankar disposed off two Public Interest Litigations (PILs) filed by social activist Avinash Mehrotra and lawyer Deepti Bhagat seeking action against offshore online betting websites and local online poker and card game websites.

The court through a common order directed the central government and the Delhi government to treat the petitions filed by Bhagat and Mehrotra as representations, and decide on banning websites like Betway, 1xbet, Dafabet, Adda52 and referred in the pleas after ascertaining whether they hosted games of skills or chance.

The court said the governments while arriving at their respective decisions would also keep in mind the aspects of money laundering, FEMA violations and taxation of the gaming proceeds.

The centre through the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had earlier through its affidavit submitted that blocking of online gaming sites, including those of card games, was “technologically infeasible” as many states have enacted laws which partially or fully allow such activities.

On the other hand, the Delhi government told the court it can only take action if a gambling site was being hosted in the national capital or if there were instances of offline gambling.

In May this year, social activist Avinash Mehrotra had filed a PIL in the Delhi High Court seeking an end to illicit online gambling/betting/wagering websites. Mehrotra had alleged that various foreign betting websites are illegally accepting payments from Indian users and allowing Indian citizens to bet vast sums of money, in contravention of FEMA and money-laundering regulations, without paying any taxes.

He had also alleged that several Indian companies are offering online poker, which according to him was a game of chance and hence not legal.

Last month, lawyer Deepti Bhagat had filed a similar petition arguing that several companies are offering online poker and card games, which are games involving luck. She further averred that licenses for offline events are also granted for such games and demanded strict action, including cancellation of licenses issued, if any to these websites and companies.

The Delhi High Court had tagged both Bhagat and Mehrotra’s petition through an order last month and today, it disposed off both PILs through a common order. The court has now entrusted the central government with the responsibility of taking a final call on whether to block offshore and domestic gaming websites.

Events Poker

AIGF organises knowledge session about the poker industry

Industry body All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) kick started the second edition of the ‘Pro Series’ last week, by hosting a knowledge session with international poker operator – PokerStars in Mumbai. The knowledge session highlighted topics like developments in the poker industry, the legal landscape of Poker in India, the importance of self-regulation, responsible gaming and growth of poker in the country.

The Pro Series event included an interactive session with AIGF CEO Roland Landers; Nishith Desai Associates co-head of Media, Entertainment and Gaming Practice Ranjana Adhikari; PokerStars India CEO Ankur Dewani and professional poker player Muskan Sethi who shared their insights on the online poker industry.

Explaining the objective of this initiative, AIGF CEO Roland Landers said, “Though the industry is witnessing robust growth for the business and in terms of player adoption there still exists a lack of understanding around online skill gaming in India hence it is important to create awareness amongst relevant stakeholders.

‘PRO SERIES’ aims to achieve that objective wherein top professional players and other domain experts will share key insights about Poker being a mind sports and on the dependence of various skills required for playing it.”

Speaking about the rapid growth of the online poker industry in India, Ankur Dewani, CEO of PokerStars India added, “We are happy to see India taking up poker and other games of skill that are not just another entertainment option but can also provide a platform to those looking to learn new skills.

Our endeavor is to help boost this growth by investing in ATL marketing campaigns like the one we launched as India’s first Poker TV ad campaign in March this year.”

Legal & Regulatory Poker

Gujarat HC to have day-to-day hearings of poker appeals from 19th December

A division bench of the Gujarat High Court, comprising of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice AJ Shastri once again adjourned a clutch of letters patent appeals filed by Indian Poker Association Secretary KN Suresh, Dominance Games Private Limited, Aman Chhabra and Hotel Ramada, Ahmedabad against a single judge bench’s order ruling poker to be a game of chance and within the ambit of gambling.

Senior counsel and barrister Nakul Dewan, appearing for IPA Secretary Suresh sought to make his submissions before the bench. The bench however adjourned the matter to 19th December and stated that the hearings of the case would be conducted on a day-to-day basis from 19th December onwards.

The appeals filed against a December 2017 single judge bench order ruling poker to be a game of chance have been marred by adjournments ever since they were first listed two years ago.

The matters however are expected to gather steam and see a final outcome from the Gujarat High Court within the next few months, if day-to-day hearings are indeed conducted from 19th December.

Legal & Regulatory Poker

Another PIL filed against online poker in Delhi HC

After social activist Avinash Mehrotra’s PIL to ban online poker and offshore betting websites, another individual, Deepati Bhagat has filed a similar petition in the Delhi High Court seeking a complete ban on poker and similar card games, played online and offline.

According to media reports, Bhagat’s petition was heard by a division bench of the Delhi High Court, comprising of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C. Hari Shankar, who issued notices to the Delhi government and Union Finance Ministry.

The bench also ordered that the matter be tagged with the Avinash Mehrotra PIL and be listed for hearing on 28th November.

Last week, the bench had apparently declined to entertain the same plea by the petitioner as she had been unable to explain what a poker game was.

Subsequently, the petitoner, Bhagat, moved the plea afresh and explained how the card game is played. She has contended that as the player has no control over the kind of cards being dealt to him or her, poker was a game of chance and not skill and, therefore, playing it for high stakes or profit amounts to gambling and is illegal. Bhagat has also sought cancellation of the licences, if any, issued to any company for playing poker or similar card games.

The PIL has also sought a ban on advertising of such games. The petition has claimed that thousands of families face monetary crisis due to gambling activities of a family member.

In May 2019, social activist Avinash Mehrotra had moved the Delhi High Court contending that several online gaming and betting websites are encouraging the country’s working population to part with their hard earned money on games of chance such as poker, teenpatti, sports betting, election betting etc.

He sought blocking of offshore online betting websites such as Betrally, Bet365 and Betway as well as domestic Indian poker websites such as Adda52 and as well as asked for a probe against the websites for tax evasion and money-laundering.

The court had declined to grant interim relief to Mehrotra and had asked the central government and RBI to file their responses. The court had also kept an intervention petition filed by All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) on hold and and kept the matter pending until the next hearing on 28th November, 2019.


Spartan Poker unveils ‘Around the Table’: A new poker-themed comedy series

Leading online poker website Spartan Poker along with with SnG Comedy and CHNO Shuffle has introduced a new poker-based series – Around the Table.

The new video series that brings together a diverse set of entertainers from various fields and pits them against professional players in a friendly and casual poker game.

The first episode of Around the Table features composer and rapper Baba Sehgal, actor Aishwarya Sakhuja, professional poker player Abhishek Goindi and comedians Karan Talwar and Gursimran Khamba, who play a game of poker, discussing Diwali festivities and crack jokes on one another.

Actor and Comedian Suresh Menon will be a part of the second episode of the series along with a professional poker power couple who were once doctors.

Commenting on the launch of the web series, Amin Rozani, Managing Director of Spartan Poker said, “We are excited to introduce this series in order to reach a new audience and inculcate them about poker activities.

Our vision is to provide opportunities to viewers which will help them broaden their horizons and explore their interests. Partnering with the leading comedy content brand like SnG comedy fuels our ambition of recruiting newer audience while keeping poker fans glued to continue through these initiatives. We hope to continue to serve them and offer more platforms in the coming years.”

Anshu Patni Singhi, Founder of CHNO Media, noted, “The idea of this video series has been to mix entertainment and poker to introduce a whole new audience to the incredibly fun world of poker.”

Comedian Karan Talwar, who was part of the first episode of ‘Around the Table’ added, “Having been a poker fan myself, I always wanted to do something fun around the game. We have designed this show in such a way that even someone who has very little knowledge of poker can follow along and be entertained.”


Deltin Royale hosts third edition of WPT India

Offshore casino Deltin Royale in association with online poker website Adda52 hosted the third edition of the World Poker Tour (WPT) India from 15th-21st October, 2019 in Goa.

Following the success of the previous two editions, the 2019 WPT India edition featured eight events with buy-ins ranging from Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 1 lakh held over the course of six days.

Four-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner Robert Mizrachi also attended and participated in this edition of WPT India as a special guest.

The tournament ended yesterday with the main event comprising of a Rs. 55,000 buy-in. The main event, which saw a total of 630 entries was won by PokerGuru ambassador Ashish Munot, who took home a total prize pool of Rs. 63.48 lakhs (which includes a US$3,500 WPT Passport).

Yuvraj Chaudhary finished second place and won Rs. 42.77 lakhs while Jai Saha came in at third position, taking home Rs. 27.53 lakhs.

While a total prizepool of Rs. 3.25 crores was guaranteed by the organisers for the main event, total prizes worth Rs. 3.28 crores were distributed, with WPT India receiving more entries than required to meet the guaranteed prizepool.

Commenting on the event, Manish Adnani, Business Head of Poker at Delta Corp Ltd. noted, “WPT India is back for the third time, here in Goa. It’s been a good start right from the beginning, with prize pools growing organically. We hope to propel the fabric to the next level, hopefully setting the benchmark for live poker events for the decade.”

Newly appointed Adda52 CEO Naveen Goyal explained the company’s participation in the event, “Being a category leader in online poker, has always invested in offering the best user experience to its poker players across online and offline channels. After two successful editions of WPT, it continues to be the exclusive partner for WPT 2019 and maintain the international standards of the game.”