Legality of skill games
As per the ruling of Supreme Court of India, game of skills as those games where “success depends principally upon the superior knowledge, training, attention, experience, and adroitness of the player”
In R.M.D. Chamarbaugwala vs Union of India (1957) case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the games where there was a certain level of skill involved, it wouldn’t be considered gambling.
The excerpt from 1996 Supreme Court judgment is as follows: "The expression 'gaming' in the two Acts has to be interpreted in the light of the law laid-down by this Court in the two 1957 cases, wherein it has been authoritatively held that a competition which substantially depends on skill is not gambling. Gaming is the act or practice of gambling on a game of chance. It is staking on chance where chance is the controlling factor.Gaming in the two Acts would, therefore, mean wagering or betting on games of chance. It would not include games of skill like horse racing"
According to the Public Gambling Act 1867, "nothing in this Act shall apply to games of mere skill wherever played". Further, Section 12 of the Gaming Act specifically saves the games of mere skills from the penal provisions of the two Acts.
In 1996, the Supreme Court of India defined games of mere skill as follows: The competitions where success depends on substantial degree of skill are not gambling and despite there being an element of chance, if a game is preponderantly a game of skill, it would nevertheless be a game of mere skill.
The Bangalore High Court in its past order on July 27, 2007, made it clear that for chess, carrom, dart game, poker, coin game, six color game, rummy, skill games and other indoor games, licence is not necessary either under the Karnataka Police Act 1963 or under License of Controlling of Places of Public Amusements (Bangalore city) Order 1986.
Furthermore, in the E Eranna & others vs State of Karnataka case (1977), it was laid down that it is manifest that a game of skill would not be held to be gambling. Poker is a game of skill, just like golf, cricket, scrabble, carom, rummy, basketball or volleyball and betting or wagering in games of skill or athletic games is permissible. The only states where betting or wagering is not permissible even in games of skill are Nagaland,Sikkim,Assam, Orissa, Telangana, and Gujrat.
Above inferences illustrate that poker is classified as a skill game as the player requires skills like mathematics, logical reasoning, strategic thinking, etc to play the game.