In a Historic Turn of Events, the Madras High Court has Declared the Tamil Nadu Law Banning Online Gaming as ‘Excessive and Disproportionate’
The 3rd of August, 2021, will forever be remembered by all poker & rummy players in India, especially ones residing in the state of Tamil Nadu – ones who missed out playing their favourite games of skill for the past few months because of the state law banning online betting games like poker & rummy.
The first bench of the Madras High Court, comprising of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy delivered the judgement via video conferencing, deciding to remove the ban imposed by the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act 2021 that banned and criminalized real money online gaming in the state.
They called the ban imposed by the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act 2021 as ‘excessive and disproportionate’ but also noted that the state legislature would be at liberty to enact new legislation for regulating online games.
The Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act 2021 was modelled after the online gaming bans imposed by the state of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and the judgement has injected some semblance of hope into the real money online gaming sector that was losing it’s market in South India. The judgement opens up the possibility of successfully challenging the bans imposed in the other two southern states.
The ban by the state of Tamil Nadu had been challenged by various online gaming companies through writ petitions, being represented by senior advocates P.S. Raman, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, C. Aryama Sundaram, and AK Ganguli. The counsel’s argument was simple, “Since 1968, the Supreme Court has made it clear that rummy is a game of skill and not a game of chance. Therefore, online rummy cannot be banned.”
The state government tried to negate the point by arguing how teens and young adults were losing their earnings due to online gaming and gambling addiction, highlighting the fact that the moment a game is played for stakes, the skill factor goes out the window, becoming gambling. The Advocate General insisted that “Manipulation is possible on cyberspace.” to which Chief Justice Banerjee reasoned, “Then, you regulate it. You can’t ban the games altogether.”
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