Is poker a game of skill? It is a question that many people, countries, and legislators ask. It was most recently asked by a high court in India, Bombay. The ruling court believes, despite the studies that show otherwise that poker is not a game of skill, but one of chance. The decision is going to affect India and online casino companies looking to get into the poker market.
Recently, one popular online casino announced it would launch an Indian based website, but only allow access to it in the Indian states that permit gambling.
Friday, March 31, 2018, the Bombay High Court heard the case regarding Nasir Patel. Patel is the CEO for Spartan Poker. He had to go before the court due to charges of hosting poker games for individuals. The poker game was for twenty-nine people. The gaming happened in an apartment in Mumbai back in 2016. The charges say he went against the Maharashtra Prevention of Gaming Act or Bombay Gambling Act.
Patel asked for the court to drop the charges saying poker is an activity that took place in a private residence and it was only among friends. He stated it was not being played for any stakes or money, but for bragging rights. Patel also said poker is a game of skill and therefore it was exempt from the gambling laws.
The High Court Response
Bombay Justices Sarang Kotwal and RM Sawant said Patel was incorrect and the game is not one of skill, but change. They told the courts they examined the description of poker and found it to be one of pure chance; therefore, it would be a case that Patel would face charges of violating the gambling act.
The Justices continued their argument saying that poker could not be a game of skill because you have to take the cards you are dealt and by chance, you might win. Of course, one might surmise these justices have never played the game, had to bluff and attempt to win despite the poor cards.
Those who are supporting poker in India find the ruling is going to affect the future, particularly in areas like Kolkata and Karnataka. Both areas are relying on the High Courts to legally accept poker as a game of skill and allow poker to be available online or in locations around the country. Telangana is one place that amended the gaming laws in their state to delete exemptions for games of skills.