The 4th of December witnessed another striking blow to the poker industry as the verdict by the Gujarat High Court went against the petition, collectively filed by KN Suresh on behalf of Indian Poker Association (IPA), Isanpur Gymkhana, Dominance Games, Rollers Training Institute of Cards, AAA Gaming and other clubs, to legalize poker in the community clubs of Gujarat. The petition was filed seeking an instruction from the High Court to the Police to not interrupt the peaceful conduct of the poker rooms in the clubs. The petition also aimed at legalising poker and recognising the card game as a game based on skill and not gambling.

The panel discussion between the judiciary and the community clubs had been underway since July and lasted till September. In these three months, the petitioners’ counsel along with two professional poker players Abhishek Goindi and Aditya Wadhwani made detailed submissions before the court defending the game of poker. The pair (Goindi and Wadhwani) even made a presentation before the court which included videos of live poker tournaments where poker players were seen examining the cards before their next move. The defense had put up strong points to change the perspective of the court and society at large towards poker.

After repeated postponements of the verdict (from 23rd November to 30th November to 4th December), Justice Rajesh H. Shukla of the Gujarat High Court rejected the petition stating the ‘gambling’ aspect of the game of poker and the adverse effect that it can cause on the society. The petitioner clubs are expected to, however, file an appeal against the judgment before a division bench of the Gujarat High Court at the earliest.

The effects of the verdict from the Gujarat High court on the blooming Indian Poker Industry are still unclear. The previous month (17th November to be precise) marked another rejection towards poker from the Gujarat High Court when the criminal petition filed by Samit Sarabhai Patel seeking permission to conduct poker games in his club was quashed by the HC.

A recent bill passed by the Telangana Government, criminalising, among others, poker has also inflicted a hard blow on the nascent industry.

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