Legal Skirmish in India Between Spartan Poker and PokerGuru Nears Resolution

A legal battle between Spartan Poker founder Rajat Agarwal and other members of the management team could be coming to an end.

Spartan Poker

A YouTube commercial shows TheSpartanPoker.com following its move to a new online domain. (Image: YouTube/The Spartan Poker)

According to Jay Sayta of Gambling Laws in India, Agarwal and a group led by the managing director of TheSpartanPoker.com Amin Rozani are close to reaching a settlement in a case that pitted one of the larger brands in an emergent Indian poker industry looking like it could be on the brink of implosion.

Spartan Turns Sour on PokerGuru

The complex legal battle started in December 2016 when SpartanPoker.com posted a note to say that Agarawal’s PokerGuru (a media and strategy website) had no control over its operations.

“Please note that PokerGuru has no control over the day-to-day operations or finances of Spartan Poker,” a December 2016 notice read. “Please exercise caution and PokerGuru has no responsibility for players funds kept on Spartan Poker.”

After that notice went live, Rozani’s company Quadrific Media Pvt Ltd posted a reply explaining that PokerGuru has misused Spartan Poker’s intellectual property. The following day, PokerGuru’s Rohit Bhalla was removed from his position at Quadrific Media and the company moved the Spartan Poker platform to the URL TheSpartanPoker.com.

In response to the allegations, Agarwal filed a civil suit with Calcutta High Court against Quadrific Media and the new parent company of the TheSpartanPoker.com, Spartan Online Pvt. Ltd.

To counter the legal case, Rozani et al hit back by lodging a defamation suit against Agarwal and his business associates at the Bombay High Court.

India Poker Industry Growing Pains

Between the protracted back-and-forth, the reputation of India’s largest online poker brand has taken something of a knock. After going live in 2014, SpartanPoker.com became home of the PokerGuru Online League as well as the India Online Poker Championship.

Additionally, satellites for the India Poker Championships were also held on the website. But with disputes over ownership and copyright leading to unwanted public attention for the brand and its founders, an amicable settlement in essential the individuals and the industry as a whole.

The poker market in India is still arguably in an early stage of development, where many contend establishing a clean reputation is important for the industry to grow. As it stands, certain states have already outlawed the game, which is why a public spat isn’t a good look for the state of the industry.

With this in mind, a civil resolution would not only allow the two parties to move on but also help insiders refocus their efforts on achieving legal acceptance of poker across the country.

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