Indian Poker Clubs Remain Illegal in Kerala Following High Court Delay

July 22nd, 2019 | by Greg Shaun

Indian poker clubs in Kerala will have to wait and see if they can offer legal games after another legal petition was pushed back by High Court judges.

Kerala High Court

Indian poker clubs in Kerala have been dealt another blow by High Court judges. (Image: Wikipedia/Augustus Binu)

Poker entities in the state originally tried to have poker made legal back in 2016. Despite initial optimism, efforts to have it classed as a game of skill hit a number of stumbling blocks.

Judges Apathetic Towards Legal Petition

On July 19, hopes were high once again thanks to an appeal from local rummy operators. Following a legal decision in January, a group of clubs, led by RummyCircle, filed a petition with the High Court in Kerala.

Arguing that rummy and, in turn, poker should be classed as games of skill, the clubs want an exemption from the Kerala Gaming Act, 1960.

In the eyes of local lawmakers, playing rummy and poker for money is the same as any other game of chance. While those entrenched in the Indian poker scene have pushed back against this verdict, setbacks have hampered the fight.

During the July 19 hearing, High Court judges elected to delay a review of the petition. Moving back the hearing to August 6, Indian poker players will have to wait to see if real money live games could be legalized in Kerala.

This current air of apathy is shared by the state of Gujarat. Taking the same view that poker is a game of chance and, therefore, in breach of local gambling laws, judges have failed to relent over the last three years.

Indian Poker Growing Regardless

Legal rummy and poker clubs in Kerala would certainly raise the profile of both games within the region. That upshot of an active live scene could, in turn, increase traffic at the leading online Indian poker sites.

However, even if High Court judges continue to delay the current appeal, India’s online gaming industry is still thriving. Although not as buoyant as it could be, the likes of Adda52 and PokerBaazi are attracting healthy numbers.

Even with PokerStars entering the market in 2018, native brands are generating the most action. As well as ever-increasing prizepools, operators have been finding unique ways to promote poker.

In April, Indian poker site 9Stacks released a rap song called Hustle Hai (see video above) while Spartan Poker cofounder Amin Rozani made a cameo in a Punjabi RnB video.

Bringing Kerala in line with regions such as Nagaland and Goa where poker is legal would help the industry. However, even with piecemeal regulation as it is, Indian poker remains an emerging force on the world scene.


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