India’s poker industry has received a lot of attention in the last 18 months as top poker operators such as the World Poker Tour (WPT) and PokerStars have entered the Indian market.
Domestic operators and poker sports leagues have also expanded operations to cater to the growing demand of poker players all across India.
Poker is still viewed as gambling throughout India as it is considered a game of chance as it is predicated on luck.
Poker Leagues and the Indian Poker Association (IPA) are doing their best to educate legislators and the general public that playing poker requires an enormous amount of skill and hence the game must be viewed as a sport that is predicated on skill.
Legislators are listening but are not yet ready to buy into that argument for now, so poker still remains illegal in most parts of India.
This has resulted in an increase in illegal poker clubs throughout India who have set up shop in order to cater to the growing demand for poker games. Many of these illegal poker games operate in posh mansions in upscale neighbourhoods and draw a VIP clientele who are welcomed only by invitation.
There are other small scale operations that operate usually on weekends drawing in poker players from the middle income bracket. Poker players in India are not very scared in visiting these poker clubs because generally these poker operators tend to be hand in glove with the police and often pay them a percentage of the profits in order for them to look the other way.
Police Raids Across Multiple Cities
These illegal poker clubs have been shaken up during the last couple of months as the authorities have suddenly decided to crackdown and shut down poker clubs across multiple cities. Poker clubs and home games in cities like Rajkot, Mumbai, Bhubaneswar and Delhi have seen multiple clubs raided, operators arrested and players warned from frequenting these clubs.
The crackdown has resulted in hundreds of cellphones and lakhs of rupees being seized along with arrests across multiple cities. What prompted the sudden crackdown on these illegal poker operators is not known but the authorities have confirmed that as the festive season in India approaches, the crackdown will intensify. A senior police officer in Rajkot who had turned a blind eye towards the illegal gambling den in his jurisdiction has been suspended.