Indian Supreme Court Ruling Won’t Impact Poker

August 23rd, 2015 | by Brian Corlisse
Indian Supreme Court rummy poker

The Indian Supreme Court did not rule on the legality of playing rummy or poker for real money. (Image: Stanford.edu)

The Indian Supreme Court was expected to make a ruling this month that would have wide reaching impact on the playing of rummy for real money in the country, something that would likely also impact poker players in the nation.

But in the end, not only did the Supreme Court determine that their ruling wouldn’t impact online rummy sites (which would in turn affect online poker as well), but they more or less passed on the issue of playing rummy for money, as well.

The case in question dealt with wagering that was taking place at rummy clubs such as the Mahalakshmi Cultural Association.

Once these activities started drawing police attention, the club went to the Madras High Court in order to get a ruling on whether or not playing rummy for stakes was legal.

Rummy Clubs Targeted by Police for Wagering

In 2012, the Madras High Court declared that playing rummy for money was considered a form of gambling, and was therefore illegal under Indian law.

However, other high courts in other states had ruled differently in the past, which led both the clubs involved in the lawsuit and some online rummy sites to petition the Supreme Court for a ruling.

On Tuesday, the court issued its final ruling on the case. In their ruling, the Supreme Court noted that the case in question didn’t actually involve accusations of playing rummy for stakes; instead, another game was at issue in this particular case. 

In addition, the court said that because the club had been acquitted by a trial court.

As such, Justices Madan B Lokur and S A Bobde disposed of the petitions looking for rulings on the legality of playing rummy for money.

That might be enough to suggest that such activities are legal.

After all, rummy has already been determined to be a game of skill in Indian courts in the past, and also that games of skill should not be regulated as gambling.

But unfortunately, the particulars of the case did not allow the justices to take those two previous tenets and firmly state that rummy was not a gambling game.

That leaves the possibility open that further legal action could be taken against rummy clubs in the future.

Poker Players Left Without Firm Ruling

The lack of a firm ruling was also a disappointing to the growing population of poker players in India.

Since poker is considered a game of skill in the same vein as rummy, such a ruling would have effectively made real money poker legal as well; instead, the game remains in something of a grey area throughout India.

Perhaps the most pressing matter for poker players in the country was settled a week earlier, however.

That’s when the judges ruled that the online rummy sites that had filed petitions related to the case would not be impacted by any ruling they made, since the case would only deal with activities in a brick-and-mortar rummy club.

“The judgment in question does not pertain to online rummy,” the court wrote. “The plea by such websites is premature. As and when this question will arise, we will deal with that, but today there is no issue to be determined.”

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