It’s about time the Indian government legalizes Poker
Poker – an attractive game of extreme skill, patience and practice! Popular throughout the world, it is accepted worldwide today that poker is not gambling, not a game of chance, but rather a skill-based game that requires mastery and expertise, just like any other sport!
Incredible India of the 21st century
Independent India is creating great impressions, being a part of the BRIC community, as a growing economy in the world, arriving on the global scenario and being perceived as a tolerant country that values and cherishes its exemplary democracy. Freedom to practice any profession is woven into the cultural fabric of modern India. In fact, the Indian diaspora has been making impressive progress in the global sports arena of late!
Is it not therefore correct for lovers of poker to expect the authorities to move with the times and change how the legislation views poker? There is ample proof of a changing legislative mindset keeping up with the changing modern trends. The recent announcement by Uttarakhand Chief Minister having the intention to legalize hemp (marijuana) farming across the state is a trailblazer towards a progressive India. Hemp is an important industrial plant and can fetch good revenue for the country, pushed by the Natural Fiber Policy of the Textile Ministry, which recognized a surge in hemp demand across the country and the world.
Exciting ripples are being felt!
Drawing parallels in the Indian gaming world, Indian law classifies all games under two broad categories – those of luck or and those of skill. The Supreme Court has maintained that rummy is a game of skill. The Karnataka High Court passed a landmark judgement in 2013 that declared poker as a predominant game of skill, along with rummy. Andhra Pradesh has also passed a similar ruling.
In fact, it is in the hand of each state to formulate the laws of gambling and gaming.Many states, such as Sikkim, Goa and Daman allow poker to be played in casinos. Nagaland looks all set to propose a bill that will legalize online gaming, claiming to be the first state to actually try and pass a legislation that supports online skill games such as rummy and poker.
These moves have sparked a debate and a hope for the poker players and fans, who like to test their skills at the game, albeit the legal way. There are a number of online poker gaming sites that have become popular owing to the courts’ verdicts above.
The love for poker is on the rise among Indians who find the game intriguing and challenging. Moreover, it gives them a perfect opportunity to test their analytical skills as well. But laws are still ambiguous about the status of poker, and are subject to interpretation. This proves to be a major hurdle in the way of the growth and popularity of this game.
Legalize and thrive
Time and again, it has proven that giving the legal stamp to the existence of a social fact has helped to generate public trust and in turn curbed illicit practices. The Delhi Government’s legalization of ‘unauthorized’ colonies has helped the municipal bodies as well as the people residing in these colonies.
Allowing the poker rooms, both physical and online to operate openly under the legal ambit, would not only suppress corruption and underhand dealings, it can also be a source of great revenue for the country.
The International Scene
The Monte Carlo of the East – Macau, is one great example! The glamorous haven has shot to fame in a short span of time and has even given stalwarts such as Lag Vegas and Atlantic City a tough competition! Macau generated $45 billion in revenues from poker in 2013 alone!
Countries like UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Malta and Thailand are some of the countries that let complete or restricted playing of poker enjoy legal status. Some countries even allow poker playing to be exempted from tax. In fact, some of these destinations are extremely popular and have attracted many global master-players who have achieved worldwide fame owing to highly successful careers built out of their mastery in poker!
Shouldn’t India follow suit?
Isn’t it time that India shakes off its traditional myopic view and legalizes poker? This will enable fans to pursue poker as a serious sport and also help make India a hot destination for fair and open gaming, inviting players from around the globe, while also adding millions or billions to our GDP!