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Indian Court Gives Online Poker The Go-Ahead

Poker Ruled Game Of Skill In Tamil Nadu


Legal authorities in a populous Indian state gave online poker the go-ahead last week, a potential boon for the industry in a country of more than 1.4 billion people.

The Madras High Court, covering India’s state of Tamil Nadu, ruled against the government’s ban, where state officials had hoped to ban all games of chance, including poker and rummy. Those two games are now excluded from the ban after justices ruled that those two games are considered games of skill. Supporters see the ruling as helping to stabilize and further investment in the Indian online poker industry.

“We are truly grateful for this landmark decision by the Honorable Madras High Court upholding the difference between games of skill and chance in line with over six decades of jurisprudence on the subject,” All India Gaming Federation CEO Roland Landers said in a statement after the ruling. “Being the apex industry body for online skill gaming (in India) … we at AIGF believe that this decision will be a great boost for this sunrise sector and generate more certainty among investors and the gaming community at large and is a step in the right direction for this sunrise sector.”

Indian Online Gaming Market Continues To Grow

The high court ruling did come with some conditions. Justices ruled that the state can regulate online rummy and poker by including the minimum age to play, timing, and other considerations.

During proceedings, gaming companies argued that since games of chance could be played legally, they shouldn’t be banned when playing online. The operators also noted that they are not running gambling businesses as they pay goods and services taxes (GST) and only collect fees for providing the platform for players to compete against each other.

Tamil Nadu government officials argued “not even a single player who was aggrieved of the ban on online rummy had approached the court challenging the ban,” the Times of India reported. They also argued that gaming companies take advantage of players and had concerns about site security.

“They (gaming portals) entice the players by offering incentives in order to make profits,” the state argued. “There is every possibility of using bots (artificial intelligence) disguised as real players.”

The Indian ruling could be impactful. Tamil Nadu is home to 72 million people and online poker has seen considerable growth in the country in recent years. A few other states also allow games of skill with online poker and companies like PokerStars, adda52, and Natural8 (a GGPoker skin) cater to Indian players.

The live game has also become popular in recent years in India. The World Poker Tour’s Prime India event in April attracted 857 entries in April with Prasit Chowdhury coming out on top for $105,089 while also earning a $10,400 seat in the WPT World Championship.