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Exclusive: SC to hear TN Govt’s SLP against Madras HC judgment striking down second ban on online poker & rummy on 29 January

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Tamil Nadu government’s appeal against the Madras High Court striking down its 2nd law banning online poker & rummy last year is listed for hearing on Monday, 29 January before a three judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud and comprising of Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra.

Incidentally the same bench is also hearing the tax appeals pertaining to GST on money gaming. In these cases the apex court granted ad-interim stay on Karnataka High Court decision paving way for issuance of tax notices to around 99 companies. The final hearing in tax cases is scheduled for April 2024.

Tamil Nadu government may also pray for ad-interim stay on the operation of the Madras High Court judgment when the matter is taken up on Monday.

A similar plea is already pending where the Tamil Nadu government challenged a similar decision of the Madras High Court quashing Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 which prohibited online gaming for stakes. It is worth noting that in a hearing in December last year on this earlier appeal, Amit Anand Tiwari, Additional Advocate General of Tamil Nadu submitted to the apex court that the Tamil Nadu government is in the process of filing an SLP against the November 2023 decision of the Madras High Court.

Amit Anand Tiwari who was recently designated as a senior counsel by the Supreme Court is expected to represent the Tamil Nadu government alongside senior counsel Kapil Sibal.

As reported earlier, in this fresh plea before the apex court, the Tamil Nadu government said the Madras High Court has committed multiple errors of law and fact while striking down the Schedule of the new enactment which included the games of online rummy and online poker.

The plea said even in a game of skill, a bet placed by a player on their own likelihood of success may not be well-calculated especially when the player does not have reliable data about the game such as the skill of their opponent(s) (e.g., when playing against a bot). The plea therefore said that even if online rummy and online poker are held to be games of skill, it would not automatically follow that the State cannot ban betting on such games of skill.

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