India has one of the fastest growing poker markets in Asia which has caused both domestic and international operators to flood the market with their poker games. While poker is banned in the majority of Indian states, online poker operators continue to push barriers and offer iPoker games without a lot of restrictions.
The Indian Poker Association (IPA) has been the chief campaigner for the legalisation of poker throughout India. The IPA has leveraged a number of high profile names from the sports world to promote poker as a mind sport. The IPA has tried really hard to in recent years to educate both the general public and state legislators that poker is not gambling as the game is not based on chance.
The IPA’s work to portray poker in a positive light has taken a beating in the last couple of months as a couple of high profile scandals have tarnished the game of poker in India. The first scandal involved a Vice President from Goldman Sachs who tried to steal 38 crore rupees from the company in order to fund his online poker addiction.
Ashwani Jhunjhunwala spent a lot of his time playing online poker and accumulated heavy losses. He got into debt in order to cover his losses and continue playing online poker. His last resort was to steal from his company but he ended up getting caught and confessed to his poker addiction.
The second high profile case involved popular online poker room Poker Baazi. A 39 year old online poker player ended up accumulating over 78 lakhs in poker debts and decided to commit suicide by jumping in a well as he could not pay back his debt. He left a suicide note in which he confessed that his poker addiction had caused him to lose 78 lakhs at Poker Baazi.
Gaming Regulator Must Be Established
These two cases have made the headlines because they were high profile. One involved Goldman Sachs and the other involved Poker Baazi. There is a strong possibility that there are more poker players in India suffering quietly because their story hasn’t made the headlines.
It is now time for the Indian government to look into the growing poker industry and establish a regulator who will put in place stringent regulations to protect Indian poker players and ensure iPoker operators follow gaming regulations.