[TN Gaming Ban] Context of online rummy entirely different from physical rummy: Senior counsel Kapil Sibal before Madras HC

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The Madras High Court today heard the arguments of the state government on  constitutional challenge to the online gaming ban law enacted by the DMK government. 

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for the Tamil Nadu government continued with and elaborated the submissions from 7 August, the earlier date of hearing.

He primarily contended that organisers cannot make profits out of games like rummy, even if they are games of skill. He further stated that the context of online rummy is entirely different from physical rummy in clubs. The senior counsel pointed out inducements like bonuses offered by online rummy websites to make users addicted and keep on playing and losing their money.

Sibal further contended that the state is well within its legislative ambit to enact laws pertaining to even banning games of skill played for stakes if it pertains to ‘gambling and betting’ (Entry 34 of the State List) as the interpretation of the earlier division bench of Madras High Court in Junglee Games interpreting the words ‘betting’ in Entry 34 to mean only betting on games of chance was erroneous.

Sibal concluded his arguments today, but Advocate General of Tamil Nadu Mr. R. Shunmugasundaram sought time for additional submissions on 17th August to supplement the arguments advanced by Mr. Sibal. The counsels for the petitioners that includes All India Gaming Federation also indicated that they want to make submissions in rejoinder on 21st August, and if need be, on 24th August as well. The matter has been listed for hearing again on 17th August.

Similar cases are pending before the Supreme Court arising from earlier decisions of High Courts of Karnataka and Madras.

In a related development, the Parliament has recently approved amendments to GST Laws to implement the proposed rate change of 28% on full face value of betting amount.