establish poker club
Is it legal to establish a poker club in Surat, Gujarat legally?
To form the association you can register as a society in Gujarat and specify that the purpose of formulating the society is to play and promote poker. Quite recently the Indian Poker Association(IPA) has been fighting legal battle across the country on this very point. In the case of Indian Poker Association v. State of Karnataka, (WP Nos. 39167 to 39169 of 2013), the Karnataka High Court identified that poker is a game of skill and players do not require a license to play it. In this case, even after registration, the IPA was harassed by the police and was asked to stop the game. The High Court identified that the evidences presented before them fail to show that the players were doing anything illegal besides playing poker and initiated an inquiry on the police harassing the members of the IPA. Similarly, the Calcutta High Court in the case of Kizhakke Naduvath Suresh v. State of West Bengal & Others (W. P. No. 13728 (W) OF 2015) clearly identified that poker is not gambling and relied on the West Bengal Prize Competition and Gambling Act which clearly excluded poker. Therefore as per the Act, playing poker does not amount to gambling. A similar case has been filed before the Gujarat High Court and the response of the Court is expected soon. Even with these strong judgments from the two High Courts, it is possible that the Gujarat High Court may take a different stand. The Gujarat High Court will have to examine the Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887 which applies in Gujarat to examine if poker falls under the definition of the term gambling as given under the Act. Therefore, there is no restriction in forming the association as you have planned but it is advised that you should wait for the decision of the Gujarat High Court to see if they consider poker as gambling. If they identify that poker falls under the definition of gambling then the act of playing poker may be declared illegal under the Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887 and you will not be allowed to register a society for an illegal activity.
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