Tamil Nadu government has no authority to ban online games: Centre to Madras HC

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Three Senior Advocates, representing online gaming companies, argued in the Madras High Court today that the state government’s ban on online skill games goes against the judgements of various courts including the division bench judgement of the same court. The trio also argued that the state’s claims of online rummy being different from physical rummy are invalid.

“Online games are allowed to be played with a lot of restrictions. You can’t blame the entire game because a few people die. There are no statistics to show that addiction to online games has increased in the southern states,” one of the lawyers said as quoted by Seithipunal.

The dispute regarding the state banning online skill games like poker and rummy is ongoing in the Madras High Court. The Gaming Ban Bill, which was made based on Justice (retired) Chandru-led committee’s report, was passed and assented to, thereby leading to the formation of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Act, 2022.

The Senior Advocates contended that the report submitted by the committee was biased and did not give online rummy companies a chance to put forward their views and arguments.

Although no petitioner requested that the IT Rules pertaining to online gaming be abolished, the lawyer for Union of India said that they have been designated as respondents in three petitions and would simply plead in order to help the court. He argued in court that the Union of India has the authority to impose rules on online gaming under the Information Technology Act, 2000 and so the Tamil Nadu government does not have the authority to ban online games through its own law.

The lawyers have previously argued that games like poker and rummy are distinct from gambling but the state has banned them, thus categorizing them as games of chance.

With all the petitioners’ arguments heard, the division bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Gangapurwala and Justice PD Audikesavalu listed the matter for further hearing on August 1, 2023 to allow Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal, representing the state of Tamil Nadu, to present his arguments.