The Central legislation governing gaming in India is the Public Gambling Act, 1867.
Is Poker Legal in India?
Section 12 of the Public Gambling Act, 1867 provides that games of mere skill are exempt from the application of the Act. The Supreme Court of India and various High Courts in India have opined that a game of mere skill is a game “in which, although the element of chance necessarily cannot be entirely eliminated, success depends principally upon the superior knowledge, training, attention, experience and adroitness of the player. A game of skill is one in which the element of skill predominates over the element of chance.” No penalty can be imposed upon a person for playing such games of skill.
Poker is a game of skill since it requires the player to possess psychological skills, knowledge of statistics & probability and strategizing skill. Bets are placed based on calculated odds and predictable outcomes. The winner is determined by probability and preponderance and not just luck. Even the International of Mind Sports Association (IMSA) recognises poker as a ‘mind sport’.
It may be noted that States are permitted, by the Indian Constitution, to enact laws regulating betting and gambling in their respective jurisdictions. In furtherance of these powers, various States have enacted anti- gambling legislations. Such legislations are largely in concert with the Public Gambling Act of 1867 (and include the exception of “games of skill”). Where a State legislation on gambling exists, it prevails over the Public Gambling Act of 1867. In this regard, the Assam Game and Betting Act, 1970 and Odisha (Prevention of) Gambling Act, 1955 and Telangana State Gaming (Amendment), and the Amendment to the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act, 1974 and the Ordinance and High Court Judgment in Gujarat, 2017 prohibits games with money stakes and also does not create an exception for games of skill. Therefore, currently, residents of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Nagaland and Telangana are not permitted to play on our site.