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Playing poker this Diwali turned sour for a group of Mumbai poker zealots. In the early hours on November 6, when the city was still waking up to the festivities that were to begin, Mumbai police raided the Sea Princess Hotel in Juhu and detained close to 135 people found gambling and playing poker. All the arrested have been booked under the relevant sections of the Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887. Police also seized ₹3.5 Lakhs in cash and poker chips worth ₹25 Lakhs from the spot.
According to a report published by the Indian Express on November 7, the Diwali bash by Indian Poker Face (IPF) was being hosted in the first and second floors of the hotel.
The raid was conducted by the Social Service branch of Mumbai Police under the instructions of Police Commissioner Subodh Kumar Jaiswal and Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ashutosh Dumbare, after police received a tip-off that an invite-only party was underway at the Sea Princess.
Notably, IPF is a popular Mumbai brand that regularly hosts live poker tournaments and cash games for the Mumbai poker circuit, and has affiliate and agent business partnerships with online poker sites.
A number of high profile businessmen and locals including 52 women and 63 men, organizers Jaideep Vadhera, Honey R and 16 others who were managing the party were among the detainees. As per information received, while the female players were allowed to leave after questioning at the Santacruz police station, the male players were detained till 9am the next day, when they were released on bail.
There were reports that former MLA Baba Siddique’s son, Zeeshan Siddique was also being questioned by the officials. However, according to a Mumbai Live report, police have denied this.
“The organisers had been co-ordinating with players on a WhatsApp group but did not reveal the location and time of the party until the last minute. They did not send out a message but called up the players to inform them,” a police officer is reported to have stated.
Police conducted the raid in a planned manner. A police officer posing as a player first entered the party. He is reported to have filmed the activities in the hotel for nearly an hour before calling the rest of his team in.
According to the police, the video footage clearly showed that gambling was underway and police have initiated an investigation against IPF and arrested persons, under the relevant section of the Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887.