NEW DELHI: The E-gaming Federation (EGF) is set to challenge the recent ordinance issued by the Tamil Nadu government to ban online gaming where it categorised rummy and poker as “games of chance”.
According to the new legislation, no supplier of online games may offer online gambling services, permit the gaming of any online gambling that requires the use of cash or other risks or permit the gaming of any online game that violates the rules.
In a statement, EGF, a not-for-profit organisation which works to protect consumer interest and self-regulate the Indian e-gaming sector, said, rummy has been settled as predominantly a game of skill by the Supreme Court and held to be protected under Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution.
“Bringing rummy under the ambit of a game of chance is directly in violation of the Supreme Court judgments and the Madras High Court judgment which overturned the law banning online games including rummy and poker,” the statement said.
“Reaffirming the preponderance test for distinguishing between games of skill and games of chance, especially in the context of rummy and poker, the Madras High Court held that wherever the better skilled would prevail more than not, is a game of skill, reinforcing that both rummy and poker are games of skill, distinct from gambling or a game of chance.”
The statement added that the Madras High Court, in its detailed judgment in August 2021, held that when it comes to card games such as rummy and poker, there is no distinction between skill involved in physical form or in virtual/online form.
Citing another judgment by the Karnataka High Court, which overturned the provisions of the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021 in February 2022 and stated that games of skill do not metamorphosise into ‘betting or gambling’, irrespective of whether they are played for stakes or simply because they are played online and are therefore constitutionally protected activities, it claimed.
“Moreover, looking into the legality of specific skill-based games, all High Court and Supreme Court judgments, on different occasions, have ruled in favor of the industry,” it said. The Federation believes that the need of the hour is a comprehensive online gaming policy that protects players and ensures that only legitimate online skill-gaming operators offer their services while weeding out the ones who break the law.
Sameer Barde, CEO of EGF, said, “After examining the ordinance, we have decided to file a lawsuit as it categorises rummy and poker as games of chance. The Supreme Court and several High Courts have reaffirmed the status of skill-based games as legitimate business activity and the state must take cognizance of these judgments in developing an enabling gaming policy that safeguards players than resorting to a ban.”
Further, the federation estimates that the Indian gaming market is expected to grow from $2.2 billion to $5 billion in revenue by 2025. Expected to grow at an impressive CAGR of 38 per cent, the sector, it said, holds significant potential for overall economic growth and employment opportunities. (ANI)