Today the nation is celebrating the 69th Independence Day and like billions of Indians, the poker community is also proud of our great country. Living in an Independent India has given us innumerous ways to progress and follow our passion. We have advanced in several sectors in past 68 years out of which sports and gaming is the one. Be it Cricket, Tennis, Badminton or Chess, Indian sportspersons have won a number of accolades repressing the nation in the international arena.
Poker rapidly popularized in India in past 10 years and thousands of Indians have pursued their passion for this game of skill. Indian poker players have done well in recent years bagging a few notable wins and scores internationally in live as well as online games. However, every Indian poker player has several constraints playing this game professionally still in the 69th year of Independence. Poker is yet to receive a national level recognition as a game in the country and various measure need to taken to promote this game among the brightest minds of the country. Hence, this Independence Day, we pondered over what an Indian poker player want in an independent India.
- Declassification from gambling
Poker is still seen as an act of gambling at large in India. We need to change the notion of people and authorities in the country and declassify it from gambling. Poker shouldn’t be looked upon as other card games like Teen-Patti, Blackjack etc. which are entirely based on luck. We believe that in coming years, more people will understand the game of poker and our society as well as authorities will stop seeing it as gambling.
- More states legalizing poker
As of now, poker is legal in a handful of states in India – Goa, Karnataka, West Bengal, Sikkim etc. Poker has been proved a game of skill at a number of instances in past several years. Thus, other states of the country should open its gates for this game and allow physical as well as online poker to be played legally in its vicinity.
- Relaxation in Taxes
Winnings in poker are heavily taxed in India. A 30% TDS is charged legally on the cash prize an Indian player wins. On the contrary, several other sports are promoted by reduced taxes on the income from prizes in the country. Poker also needs to be looked upon as a sport and taxes on earnings should be decreased. It will boost the bankrolls of players in the country as well as reduce burden of sharing TDS by the organizers and poker companies. This can be the most welcomed step to boost poker in an independent India.
- National level recognition as a sport
Today poker is played by thousands of Indian citizens and many of them play it full time for their living. The entire poker community of India wants the game to get national level recognition as a sport like other mind games e.g. Chess. Like every other sports in the country, we also need a central committee/body to look after the game of poker. It can be panel of seasoned pros and industry experts authorized by the government to take care of the game and players. Doing this will bring all Indian players under one umbrella and strengthen the roots of this game.
- Awards in poker
Though poker players win many trophies and huge cash prizes, we still do not have any central/national awards for finest performances. Unlike, other sports in the country, the poker players go unnoticed at national level. OPN India strong advocate for a national award function for the poker industry where players, organizers, media and all other supporting staffs of this game should be honored for their contribution.