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Supreme Court issues a notice on a petition challenging Madras High Court decision to lift ban on online rummy, poker, and other such games

The High Court of Madras’ decision to overturn the ban on internet games like rummy and poker was challenged in Supreme court, and a bench of the Supreme Court made up of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Vikram Nath gave notice of the case on Friday.

The High Court of Madras’ decision to invalidate the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act of 2021 was the subject of a petition filed by the State of Tamil Nadu on August 3, 2021. Online poker and other games with real money stakes were prohibited under the Act. Betting in its original definition cannot be distinguished from gambling, according to the High Court, because betting involves accepting a risk.

In the Court’s opinion, “In legal jargon, the terms “gambling” and “gaming” have taken on secondary connotations. Indeed, in the pre-constitutional age, these phrases had acquired such implications that nomen juris could not be disregarded in order to understand them to mean or indicate anything other than how they have been
judicially understood. Regardless of the definitions these words have in dictionaries, gambling is synonymous with gaming since the activity’s preponderance of chance prevents any potential role for skill to influence the outcome.”

When invalidating the amended Act of 1930, the Madras High Court panel headed by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee noted that the legislation at issue must be viewed as something the legislature did capriciously, irrationally, and without an adequate guiding principle, making it excessive and disproportionate. This is because when a
game of skill involves betting and wagering, as specified in Section 3(b) of the Act, it becomes an offence.

Despite the fact that “playing or participating in a game of skill does not constitute an offence under Section 4(1) of the Act of 1930, the court stated that if betting or wagering – as defined in the Explanation to Section 3(b) of the Act – is involved, the activity constitutes an offence under Sections 8 and 9 of the Act. Therefore, according
to the legal fiction generated by the definition, a straightforward game of football or volleyball played for bragging rights between two teams or a tournament that offers any cash prize or even a trophy would constitute gaming and be prohibited”.

Anamika Singh
Anamika Singh

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