‘Govt cannot ban games of skill under ‘betting and gambling’ entry: AIGF lawyer

On 21 August 2023, the Madras High Court continued to hear the case to the passage of the online gaming prohibition. Senior counsel C. Aryama Sundaram, representing gaming body AIGF, filed rejoinder submissions, stating that the state government’s concerns about regulating the time and place of activity of online games are misconceived because the TN Online Gaming Act itself provides for the TN Online Gaming Authority to regulate the time, limit, age, and so on of online games.

Conveying that skill games don’t come under ‘betting and gambling’, he said that the government cannot argue that the purview of ‘betting and gambling’ under List II of Schedule VII of the Constitution includes betting on skill games when a Division Bench of the Madras High Court in Junglee Games has ruled that the words ‘betting and gambling’ do not include betting on skill games.

He further claimed  that no AIGF member uses bots and if any gaming platform is found to be using bots, criminal action can be taken under the existing laws as it amounts to cheating and breach of trust.

Mr. Sajan Poovayya, senior advocate representing online rummy companies, contended that the central government has already amended the IT Rules to provide a regulatory framework for online real money games, and that various restrictions are provided for under the said rules to address the state government’s concerns. He went on to show screenshots of the online rummy sites’ operations.

Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Gameskraft, requested that the matter be scheduled for August 24th so that he may make his rejoinder submissions. As a result, the court scheduled it for August 24th. The case may conclude on August 24th, and the judgement may be withheld.

In previous proceedings, eminent counsel Kapil Sibal, representing the Tamil Nadu government, argued that organisers cannot benefit from games like rummy, even if they are skill games. He went on to say that the backdrop of online rummy is vastly different from that of physical rummy in clubs.