Online Gaming ban laws: Supreme Court to hear Tamil Nadu and Karnataka appeals on Tuesday

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The appeals by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments in the Supreme Court on constitutionality of online gaming laws will tentatively be listed Tuesday 14th February before a bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose & Sudhanshu Dhulia as Item 33. A related special leave petition by Varun Gumber will also be heard with these matters.

The appeals by the government of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka arose from the respective High Courts striking down laws enacted to prohibit all kinds of gaming for stakes played through the internet.

Telangana which is the first state to enact a specific law to ban online gaming for stakes has filed a transfer petition to the Supreme Court seeking the constitutional challenge pending before the Telangana High Court to be clubbed with these matters. The transfer petition is not allowed presently and only a notice has been issued. However, even the lawyers representing Telangana may be present in the next hearing.

Meanwhile, the Andhra Pradesh High Court last month directed the state government to constitute a committee to determine whether online rummy is a game of skill or game of chance. This is the first time that a High Court sought to differentiate between online and offline version of a rummy game.

While the appeal is pending, the Tamil Nadu assembly recently approved a bill to enact a similar law to ban online gaming for stakes. However, the governor has not assented to the bill, leading to a conflict between DMK led state government and the governor who is a BJP nominee.

Another similar law was enacted by Chattisgarh in recent times. Even here, the governor has not assented to the bill. In recent times, the Union government has spoken about bringing in a central law with consensus of all the states.

Responding to members queries, Ashwini Vaishnaw, the Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, stated in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, February 8, that there should be a central law to regulate online gaming and gambling and the same can be enacted if there is a consensus with the states.