Indian police have raided and shut down around 500 card rooms in Bengaluru in what is a sudden shift in law enforcement’s view on gambling venues.
Commission of Police Alok Kumar indicated to the Bangalore Mirror that this move was an attempt to thwart criminal activity and brawls that have become synonymous with the games.
The police disclosed that all recreational clubs have been granted licences to operate card tables on the condition that they also provide sport and leisure facilities. But most of the clubs that have obtained licences are only operating card tables.
It should also be stressed that this isn’t a specific targeting of poker rooms. A large portion of the venues were running different cardgames like Rummy.
Poker is recognised as a game of skill in Bengalaru since a 2013 ruling of the High Court of Karnataka.
CardRack Poker Room raided
Among the most iconic poker venue victims of this operation was CardRack poker room. PokerGuru reports that on September 30th the Central Crime Bank (CCB) officers burst into the renowned CardRack poker room and ordered it to cease operations. A total of 27 players were present. All of them were taken to the local police station but no charges were pressed against them.
Flourishing poker scene in danger?
Aside from the short-term difficulties created by the continued closure of these establishments, the long-term future of Bengaluru as a poker hub is also seemingly being jeopardised. The 2013 High Court of Karnataka judgement set the foundations for a poker community to grow and prosper in Bengaluru, and talented players have been honing their talents there ever since. Now, however, these players have not only been left to digest the worrying news of these closures, but also to consider where they want to play their poker. Playing poker in a poker room that could be raided and shut down at any moment will not seem appealing to most players.
Clubs in the area are currently said to be closed temporarily, but with local poker operators having been plagued by bribe requests and raids in the past, many now fear that there may be a return to the situation seen before the High Court ruling in 2013.
Article by Craig Bradshaw