On November 9, the Madras High Court division bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Gangapurwala and Justice PD Audikesavalu struck down the online gaming ban law when it comes to games of skill such as poker and rummy. However, the prohibition related to games of chance continues to apply.
In light of this development, Tamil Nadu Law Minister S Regupathy has announced that the state government will file an appeal against the verdict in the Supreme Court. If and when it happens, it will be the second appeal from the state on the same matter in the Supreme Court.
In a media interaction in Pudukottai district today, Regupathy said they have “no confusion” with regard to whether the state can enact such a law as the court has reiterated the same. The law minster affirmed that online rummy and poker should be banned as people lose money playing them. Moreover, he said that physical rummy is different from online rummy and as the latter can be manipulated.
“Online rummy and poker should be banned. Many people lose their lives and money due to these games. We have provided this separately. Rummy is skill-based but online rummy played on a computer is completely based on luck. That is why we are protesting against such games,” said Regupathy as quoted by ABP News Tamil.
Earlier, the AIDMK-led state government had passed a similar law which was quashed by the Madras HC in August 2021, terming it unconstitutional and violative of Article 19 (1)(g) of the Constitution.
The current state government led by the DMK has had the same stance towards online gaming. The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Act, 2022 came into effect in April of this year, banning rummy and poker as well after classifying them as games of chance, despite various High Courts and the Supreme Court previously ruling them as games of skill. The division bench, in their judgement yesterday, also noted the same.
“The State, in the impugned Act, has already included the games of rummy and poker to be online games of chance merely on presumption. The same cannot be protected. The same would be contrary to the judgments of the Apex Court and of this Court, discussed supra. In view of that, it will have to be held that the inclusion of the games, rummy and poker, in the Schedule of the Act is erroneous, does not stand to reason and the said Schedule deserves to be set aside,” the division bench’s judgement read.
Anbumani Ramadoss disappointed with the Madras HC verdict
Along with the state government, Anbumani Ramadoss, President of PMK and Rajya Sabha MP, shares the same stance regarding online gaming. He expressed his disappointment yesterday following the Madras HC order and urged the state government to appeal it in the Supreme Court. With Regupathy announcing the same, it would have brought Ramadoss some relief.
Ramadoss has been vocal about banning online games, especially rummy as reportedly several suicides have been attributed to it in the state in the past few years. He believes that online gaming, in general, is harmful for the youth.
“No matter how legalized online rummy is, once it comes back into play, people in Tamil Nadu, especially the youth, fall prey to it and commit suicide in huge numbers,” he said in a recent post.