India's Goa State opens investigation into Natural8 India operations; Natural8 issues statement

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Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: February 23, 2024 09:13 PST

(This report has been updated to include a statement from Natural8 India - hh)

Barely five months after opening its virtual doors, the Natural8 India online poker site has apparently been targeted by authorities in the state of Goa for allegedly illegal activities. As reported by Goa-based Gateway to Gaming (gtg.news), the state's police have filed a First Information Report (FIR) against Natural8 India parent Gamoski Networks Private Limited and two company directors, Kunal Patni and Sonia Madan.

According to the GTG update, multiple agencies are participating in the ongoing investigation, and Patni, the director of Natural8 India, has purportedly been summoned by investigators to appear on Monday, February 25, to be queried about the site's operation. However, according to a statement from Natural8 India and Gamoski Networks, the company hasn't even been notified about the FIR to date, (See full statement below.)

The FIR as filed by the GOA police and reported by GTG alleges "manipulation, cheating and rigging of games as well as misappropriation of funds." Such allegations are commonplace in poker but difficult to prove for a myriad of reasons, amd most often emerge from disgruntled losing players. However, the investigation reportedly follows other avenues as well.

Per GTG, agencies including India's Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Directorate General of Goods and Services Tax Intelligence (DGGI) are investigating possible violations of the country's anti-money-laundering and financial-exchange codes. The Goa FIR also alleges that the GGPoker network can be used not only for illegal international transfers, but for " hawala", a form of off-the-books, underground banking common in the region.

India's laws may not allow county to join global player pooling

Natural8 India launched last September with a broad announcement featuring Patni and WSOP bracelet winner Nikita Luther, who serve as the site's first brand ambassadors. Natural8 India operates under a licensing agreement with the Asia-focused Natural8 family of sites, which are skins on GGPoker's global network.

Both the actual poker play and the alleged ability for player-to-player transfers to be made on the GGPoker platform allegedly violate the gambling codes cited in the Goa police filing. Also mentioned are satellite tournaments under the Natural8 umbrella to the live Asian Poker Tour (ATP) Taipei stop that begins in April, another example of the alleged international nature of the poker action being made available on Natural8 India. However, a check of the Natural8 India website shows, as the time of this feature's publication, a promotion for APT Taipei that is described as an " India Exclusive" and not open to players from other countries, an indicator rthat the site is India-only.

Natural8 India is available only in certain Indian states, due to varying state-level rulings and interpretations on the legality of online poker. According to Natural8 India's terms of service, players from the states of Assam, Orissa, Nagaland, Sikkim, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh are barred. The site's ToS also requires players to be a resident of India in general to participate.

Access to the global GGPoker platform is itself another issue allegedly being investigated. According to the GTG report on the Goa complaint, India's online-gaming laws do not allow the country's citizens to gamble against players in other countries. The GTG report itself does not address whether Natural8 India is firewalled to allow only players from India to participate, and offers no evidence to support the FIR allegation of Indian players competing against players from other countries.

Natural8 India 'unequivocally' denies allegations

After becoming aware of the published report on GTG, Natural8 India and parent company Gamoski Networks not only deny the allegations, but also deny they've even been contacted by Goa authorities. A statement from Gamoski Networks reads as follows:

Statement by Gamoski Networks Pvt Ltd
Date: February 24, 2024
Location: Goa, India

Gamoski Networks Pvt Ltd has become aware of recent allegations suggesting the filing of a First
Information Report (FIR) against our company for purported fraudulent activities associated with our
website, http://www.natural8in.com. We aim to address and clarify these allegations with utmost clarity
and promptness.

As of this statement's release, no official communication or documentation regarding the FIR has
been received by Gamoski Networks Pvt Ltd. It is both concerning and perplexing that such claims
have emerged in the media prior to any formal legal notification to our company.

We unequivocally deny these unfounded accusations. As the holding company of the Natural8 India
Poker brand, Gamoski Networks Pvt Ltd operates with the highest level of integrity and transparency.
Upholding ethical business practices is not just a commitment but a cornerstone of our operations.
Our operations have been meticulously designed to comply with all applicable laws and regulations
in India, guided by expert legal advice. We are staunch in our dedication to legal and regulatory
adherence.

In addition, our gaming platform has been rigorously tested to meet the industry's highest standards
for fairness and security. We are proud to confirm that our platform has cleared the relevant Random
Number Generator (RNG) and technological standards, recognized as best-in-class within the
gaming industry.

We want to reassure our customers, partners, and stakeholders that Natural8 India Poker continues
to operate with unwavering dedication to a secure and equitable gaming experience. Our
commitment to robust security measures and strict fair play standards ensures the integrity of every
game on our platform.

We urge the public and media to avoid propagating unsubstantiated rumors and speculation.
Gamoski Networks Pvt Ltd remains steadfast in its mission to provide a trusted and transparent
gaming environment for our community.

Issued by:
Gamoski Networks Pvt Ltd
Office Address:
Office No.1, 5th Floor,
Pedro Vincent Vaz, Centro,
opposite Mapusa Police Station,
Mapusa, Goa 403507

Featured image source: Natural8 India