The game of poker has spread rapidly across India and has caused hundreds of poker clubs to open all over India.
Calcutta has its fair share of poker clubs which are frequented by players on a daily basis.
However, both these poker clubs and players have been harassed by the police who frequently raid these clubs on the premise that illegal gambling activities are taking place.
The authorities in Calcutta consider poker to be a form of gambling and since gambling is banned in the state of West Bengal, the police have threatened poker club owners and players with arrest.
The Indian Poker Association (IPA) is fighting hard in multiple states to get the courts to recognise that the game of poker is based on skill and not luck. The IPA filed a petition in the Calcutta High Court highlighting the fact that poker clubs are being harassed by the police who are claiming that poker is gambling.
The High Court heard the petition and ruled in favour of the IPA stating that game of poker is ipso facto and cannot be considered gambling based on the definitions outlined in Section 2(1)(b) of the West Bengal Gambling and Prize Competition Act, 1957. The Court also instructed the police to stop interfering with poker clubs or members of these clubs going forward.
The ruling is not only a big victory for poker clubs and members in Calcutta but also for the IPA. This will encourage the IPA to continue its campaign to get other states to recognise poker as a game of skill and make poker legal throughout India.
Cannot Raid Poker Clubs Without A Warrant
The Calcutta High Court sent out a very strict and clear message to the police informing them that they cannot storm the premises of a poker club or question poker players whenever they feel like it.
The police have been told that they can only enter a poker club when they have a warrant and have received the required permission from the relevant authorities. The Judge stated that unless there was a specific FIR (first information report) filed against a specific poker club or specific individuals at the poker club claiming they were indulging in illegal gambling activities, the police had no cause or reason to interfere with the daily operations of these poker clubs.