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‘Rummy & Poker Are Games Of Skills’ : Madras High Court While Striking Down Online Gaming Ban

The Madras High Court struck down the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 which imposes a ban on playing of games such as rummy and poker on cyberspace with stakes. Section 11 of the impugned legislation also banned games of ‘mere skill’ if such games are played for wager, bet, money or other stake. A Bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthikumar Ramamoorthy was adjudicating upon a batch of petitions filed by gaming companies who offer access to card games like rummy and also poker on virtual platforms. The petitioners had contended that the impugned legislation by prohibiting even games of skills if played for any prize or stakes violates Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution (right to practise any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business). Reliance was also placed on the Madras High Court judgement in Dr.K.R.Lakshmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu wherein a ‘game of skill’ had been explained in the context of placing bets on horse racing. It was held in that particular case that a game of skill may necessarily involve an element of chance, but the success therein would depend “principally upon the superior knowledge, training, attention, experience and adroitness of the player.” By way of example, the High Court had observed that golf, chess “and even rummy” were considered to be games of skill.

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