Gujarat high court (HC) on Monday admitted a petition filed by city-based Hotel Ramada seeking directions to the authorities to allow it to organize the game of poker on the ground that it is not gambling because it involves an element of skill.
Justice C L Soni has sought a reply from the state government, city police commissioner, Anandnagar police inspector and the municipal commissioner after they did not take any decision on the hotel's request to permit it to hold the game of poker. On the other hand, the Anandnagar cops called the hotel management on phone and asked them to stop the game.
Earlier, Justice J B Pardiwala recused himself from hearing this case. When the matter came up for the hearing before Justice Soni, petitioner's advocate Maulin Pandya submitted that since the authorities did not respond to representation, the hotel management went ahead with organizing the game, but was restricted following intervention by local cops.
Advocate Pandya placed two judgements by a US court and cited experts' opinions saying how poker is the game that involves element of skill and the game's outcome is not entirely on the basis of chance. Hence, it cannot be called gambling.
The lawyer also cited judgements from various high courts of India and laws prevalent in West Bengal that make it clear that poker is not gambling. In the states of Karnataka, West Bengal, Sikkim and Nagaland, this game is allowed to be played freely. Moreover, Gujarat government allows this game to be played online.
A similar complaint was made by the Young Men's Christian Association, Ahmedabad. Its petition is pending before the court. The HC will hear this matter on January 12.