Sports

Madras High Court Ruling: Rummy and Poker Classified as Games of Skill under Tamil Nadu Online Gaming Act

The court invalidated the Act's Schedule that labeled Rummy and Poker as games of chance, which were prohibited under the law.

Feb 8, 2024

Mind Sports

In a recent ruling, the Madras High Court declined to categorize the entirety of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Act, 2022, as unconstitutional, asserting that Rummy and Poker are games of skill. The court invalidated the Act's Schedule that labeled Rummy and Poker as games of chance, which were prohibited under the law. This decision comes after the Tamil Nadu government introduced the legislation in response to a series of suicides allegedly linked to financial losses in online gambling.

A bench led by Chief Justice S V Gangapurwala and Justice P D Audikesavalu partially granted writ petitions filed by the All India Gaming Federation and other online gaming companies challenging the Act. The court ruled that while the state can regulate online gambling involving games of chance, it cannot extend this regulation to games of skill like Rummy and Poker.

The court highlighted the failure of the state to prove that online versions of Rummy and Poker were fundamentally different from their offline counterparts. Concerns raised by the state about potential misuse of bots or software manipulation were dismissed due to lack of substantial evidence.

The judgment emphasized that the state has the authority to enact regulations to oversee online gaming activities, including imposing restrictions on age and time limits. However, it also stressed the need for such regulations to be reasonable and proportionate.

Regarding concerns about public health and order, the court noted that while the state has a duty to safeguard its citizens, there was no evidence to suggest that online gaming posed a significant threat to public order in this case.

In conclusion, the court partly allowed the writ petitions, rejecting the demand to declare the entire Act unconstitutional but nullifying the inclusion of Rummy and Poker as games of chance. The ruling reaffirms the distinction between games of skill and games of chance in the context of online gaming regulation, underscoring the importance of evidence-based policymaking in addressing societal concerns.

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