November 28, 2017
| On 4 years ago


By Rajib Kar

The western portion of British Indian Province, Bengal became West Bengal during the partition of India. This Indian Province is now the only one state to exempt various card games from the banner of gambling. Built in 1820, Kolkata Race Course is the largest horse race venue in India. Royal Calcutta Turf Club maintains it and offers horse races during two sessions. West Bengal Prize Competition and Gambling Act have boosted the card games by excluding them from the definition of gambling and gaming. This Act has also permitted horse racing and has provisions of exemptions for games of skill. Besides, Kolkata Municipal Corporation issued entertainment licenses for games like pool-tables and video games. However, sports’ betting is the other form of gambling here.


Indians love placing online bets. Betting on cricket is a multimillion-dollar industry, but it is beyond the legalisation bar in most of the Indian states. West Bengal too does not permit it. Yes, the state has changed its stand on sports betting. Under the West Bengal Gambling & Prize Competition Act, 1957, the state bans in front of this game. Another source says that no law prohibits online betting on cricket. For illegal activities, Kolkata police arrested six cricket bookies in March 2015.


Under West Bengal Gambling & Prize Competition Act, 1957, betting on horse racing is out of the ambit of gambling. This game is permitted here upon granting of a license. Kolkata Race Course, the largest horse race venue in India, is a premier horse racing organisation concerning popularity. It is engaged in hosting a large number of prestigious races including Queen Elizabeth Cup and Calcutta Derby. However, the horse races held in KRC from November to March and July to September.  Bordered by Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh, the state of Bengali speaking people, annually collects more than 1.5 crore as taxes. Even if there are controversies, horse racing is majorly considered as a game of skill in this state. It involves speed, stamina, and evaluative skills.


West Bengal organises lottery games under West Bengal State Lottery Rules, 1968, and Lottery Regulation Act, 1998, the West Bengal state. In this agenda, the state government had introduced a law in 2011. As per this act, organisers are likely to pay $1700 for regular draws and around $8500 for bumper draws. This move was taken to control the immense growth of illegal lotteries inside the state. It also helped the cabinet to increase the percentage of tax collections. However, the state has introduced Banglakshmi draw which offers two general drawings every month. Banglakshmi lottery is also instrumental in providing bumper draws during festive seasons.


No law in West Bengal prevents gambling on card games. Games like poker, bridge, flush, and rummy appear in front of our eyes if we talk about the card games prevalent in India’s fourth most populous state. Backed by Calcutta High Court, the West Bengal state has released these games from the definition of gambling. A three-judge panel did it under West Bengal Gambling & Prize Competition Act, 1957. It allowed the poker clubs in the state to operate without an apprehension about running an illegal activity. Hence, Indian Poker Association introduced new operations at Kolkata’s Princeton Club. The leading casinos in West Bengal offer a wide range of table and card games to the punters from West Bengal and the nearby states. A significant portion of upper-middle-class Indians finds it as an analytical indoor game. A portion defines it as a right way of spending time instead of going attending parties. Another part sees it as a way of socialising and recreation. Even though the legal atmosphere is not conducive for poker as an indoor game, the popularity of poker is increasing across the state.


Kolkata is the only one city in India which offers Amator Poker Room to the poker lovers. These are particular kinds of poker rooms which offer extra flexibilities to the players. These gaming centres allow the players to play, walk, hire tables, and food items as per their desire. Vipin Choudhary, a lawyer; Diddy Thacker, a member of Kolkata poker community; and Shashwat Agarwal, a member of Kolkata poker community; had introduced the first Amator Poker Room in the capital city. If you are willing to play this game in Amator Poker Room, you are requested to visit between 12 pm to 9 pm. A PPC director said, “We are not a nightclub. Our concept was to come up with a place where our members can enjoy all days of the week. From the attire of the place to the staff, everything has an international touch. We are offering membership and targeting the 30-plus age group.” But, it has already closed its operations in the city.


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Rajib Kar

If cricket is a religion, I'm a religious person. I just love to play this game. I also enjoy watching, reading, and writing about the cricketing events across the globe.

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