Nagaland Issues First Online Poker License in India

December 19th, 2016 | by Kaycee James

India’s first regulated online poker site has just been announced thanks to the Nagaland State Lotteries office.

Back in April, the state of Nagaland, located in the Northeast of India, announced the country’s first ever online poker bill.

Signed into law by Governor PB Acharya, the bill essentially put in place a regulatory and licensing framework for all games of skill offered by an online operator.

Khelo365 gets online poker license.

India has just handed out its first online poker license to K365’s Khelo365.com. (Image: mdoner.gov.in)

Among other games such as chess, rummy and fantasy sports leagues, poker was named as a game where the focus was more on skill than chance.

This landmark law not only allowed operators in the state to apply for a license, but any company based in India.

A State Law for All

Although the law was drawn up in the Nagaland region, license holders in other states must abide by local laws but can rely on the Nagaland State Lotteries office to oversee any disputes.

With the Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill Bill now in place, the regulator has just awarded its first license.

With ten operators initially being offered the chance to apply for a license, M/s K365 Web Assets Pvt Ltd was the first to respond and be approved.

The owner of Khelo365.com, which offers online poker and rummy, K365 is hoping to not only capitalize on its new license but pave the way for regulated online poker in India.

“We will end the debate on the legality of online poker once and for all, and will enable this industry to boom,” said K365 managing director Vinod Manoharan.

All About Skill Not Chance

Under the conditions of its new license, K365 won’t be able to have any business dealings with companies that offer games of chance. For example, should the operator want to forge some sort of deal with Amaya, it would be risk losing its license as Amaya has interests in the casino and sports betting world.

Despite this clause, regulated online poker is now a real thing in India and that could help the market grow. Until now, poker sites in India have operated in a grey area somewhere between legal and illegal.

Although there have never been an explicit bans on the industry, neither has there been any rules in place to govern the way sites offer games.

Now, however, there is at least some framework in place to ensure players are protected at all times. Although the idea of poker being a skill game might differ from definitions held by other countries, such as the UK for example, at this stage any route to regulation is a good one.

While the classification might make it difficult for operators to forge international relationships in the future (because many operators offer poker and casino games), the latest news should be seen as a positive start for Indian iGaming.

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