[TN Gaming Ban Law] Govt cannot ban games of skill under ‘betting and gambling’ entry: argues AIGF lawyer

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Madras High Court continued to hear the challenge pertaining to the online gaming ban enactment on 21 August 2023. Senior counsel C. Aryama Sundaram representing gaming body AIGF made rejoinder submissions noting that the state government concerns about regulation of time and place of activity of online games are misconceived as the TN Online Gaming Act itself provides for regulation of time, limit, age etc. of online games by the TN Online Gaming Authority.

He further contended that the government cannot now contend that the ambit of ‘betting and gambling’ under List II of Schedule VII of the Constitution includes betting on games of skill as well when a Division Bench of Madras HC in Junglee Games has expressly ruled that the words ‘betting and gambling’ mean only betting on games of chance.

He further contended that none of the AIGF members use bots and if any platform is found using bots, criminal action can be taken under the existing laws because the same amounts to cheating and breach of trust.

Mr. Sajan Poovayya, senior advocate appearing for online rummy companies contended that the central govt already has amended the IT Rules to provide a regulatory framework for online real money games and various restrictions are provided for under the said rules and take care of the concerns of the state govt. He further explained the modus operandi of the online rummy platforms through screenshots.

Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Gameskraft requested that the matter may be listed on 24th August to enable him to make his rejoinder submissions. Accordingly, the court posted the matter to 24th August, which is expected to be the final date of hearing. The matter may conclude on 24th August and the judgment may be reserved.

In the earlier hearings, senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for the Tamil Nadu government 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.

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