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Online Poker A Game Of Skill In India, But Still Unlawful

A recent ruling by a court in Delhi, India, found that games of skill such as poker and chess are unlawful in the country if betting for money is involved and cannot be afforded protection under India’s constitution, the Indo-Asian News Service reported.

Additional District Judge Ina Malhotra made his ruling on Sept. 17 in response to a petition filed by former Indian Institute of Technology students who were hoping to launch a website that would offer poker, snooker, bridge, rummy, chess, and billiards–all games recognised as requiring skill in order to succeed. The students wisely sought a legal interpretation of India statutes pertaining to Internet wagering prior to investing in and starting the venture.

The judge ruled that wagers involving money are illegal and that although the games proposed to be offered may require skill, banks and financial institutions may refuse servicing websites that would offer such games. The judge further stated that Internet games run for profit were res extra commercium, which is legal jargon for “a thing outside commerce.” As such, the proposed online business did not fall under the country’s standards of trade and business.

India has never fully embraced gambling and the practice is widely restricted with only two of the country’s 28 states operating legal casinos. Online gambling laws are unclear and remain in a grey area, though players can and do log on and play. With a huge population of 1.2 billion, if India ever elected to legalize online poker and gambling, the revenue stream would be staggering and easily the world’s most lucrative marketplace.


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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.