The Mumbai Police raided a high-profile poker party at Juhu’s Sea Princess Hotel early on Tuesday. As many as 135 people, including those who had come to play and the organisers, have been detained.
The Social Service Branch of the police conducted the raid on the instructions of Commissioner of Police Subodh Kumar Jaiswal and Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), Ashutosh Dumbare, after receiving information that an invite-only party would be held at the 5-star hotel on Juhu Tara Road.
The party was organised in the halls on the first and second floors of the hotel by the Indian Poker Face (IPF), an Andheri-based firm that organises regular meet-ups for poker players.
Two organisers, Jaldeep Vadhera and Honey R, and 16 others who were part of the organising and managing team have been arrested. Of the 63 men and 54 women who had been invited, the women were let off while the men were placed under arrest by Santacruz police station, where a complaint was registered. All 135 have been booked under the Bombay Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887.
“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,” said a crime branch officer.
The invites had been sent as WhatsApp messages to a closed group of people who then invited other friends, the police said. After coming across the message that had phone numbers of the arrested organisers, the police sent a person to the party posed as a player.
“Our man filmed the activities in the hotel for an hour before informing us. In the video footage, we can clearly see that gambling was underway,” an officer said.
The police described those who attended the party as rich businessmen and women and Rs 3.5 lakh in cash and Rs 25 lakh worth of poker chips have been seized from those detained.
Despite repeated attempts, no IPF official was available for a comment.