Madras High Court strikes down Tamil Nadu Amendment Act banning online gambling with stakes – Media, Telecom, IT, Entertainment

India: Madras High Court strikes down Tamil Nadu Amendment Act banning online gambling with stakes

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Madras High Court, see its order of August 3, 2021 with regard to Junglee Games India Private Limited v Tamil Nadu State, struck down Part II of the Tamil Nadu Gambling and Police (Amendment) Act 2021 which amended the Tamil Nadu Gambling Act 1930 to prohibit playing games such as rummy and poker on cyberspace with stakes, declaring it unconstitutional.

The verdict was delivered while allowing a batch of writ petitions filed by a host of private companies offering online gambling challenging the legal validity of the ordinance enacted by the Tamil Nadu government banning online betting and betting in cyberspace. The amendment encompasses in its scope all sporting activities, if played for a prize, whether between two class teams in a school or between two schools in an inter-school competition, if there is a trophy to be won.

The Court noted that there appears to be some doubt that rummy and poker are games of skill as they involve considerable memory, calculating percentages, the ability to follow the cards on the table and to constantly adapting to the changing possibilities of the unseen. cards. Poker may not have been recognized in a previous judgment in this country as being a game of skill, but the evidence in this regard emerging from the American case even convinced the Commission of the right to accept poker as a game of skill in his 276th report. .

The Court held that by imposing a sweeping blanket ban, the state failed to meet the “least intrusive” test and therefore the amendment breached Article 19(1) (g) of the Constitution of India, which grants the right to practice a profession or engage in any profession, trade or business. She further found that the amendment itself was capricious, irrational, excessive and disproportionate.

While striking down the amendment in its entirety to be ultra vires the Constitution, the Court added that nothing here will prevent appropriate legislation consistent with the constitutional sense of propriety brought to the field of betting and gambling by the state.

Comment from Alpha Rajan & Partners:

The gambling industry in India is struggling due to the lack of a unified gambling law. Each state has a different legal position as the power to legislate betting and gambling is a subject of state under the Constitution of India. Gambling, including gambling, is prohibited in most states. However, a game of skill has been differentiated from a game of chance although there is no clarity on this distinction and Indian courts decide on the facts of each case. This judgment should be welcomed by most players in the industry because it invalidated the law which had irrationally prohibited online games without distinguishing the game of skill from the game of chance based on legal precedents as established by courts in India.

Originally published August 5, 2021

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