Decide whether Online Rummy is game of skill or chance after noting committee report, IT Rules 2023: Supreme Court to AP High Court

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The Supreme Court recently asked the Andhra Pradesh High Court to take a fresh look at whether Online Rummy is a game of skill or a game of chance, after a committee ordered to be constituted by the latter submits its report on the same. [The State Of Andhra Pradesh v. Play Games 24 And 7 Private Limited]
The Andhra Pradesh government had moved the apex court against a High Court interim order directing it to constitute a committee to submit a report on how Online Rummy is played, in the absence of material on the online version of the game.

The matter came up for hearing before a Bench of Justices JK Maheshwari and KV Viswanathan, which has asked the High Court to consider the effect of the recently notified Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023 with respect to online gaming.

“We think it appropriate that since the order impugned is interim in nature, asking the report from the Government, therefore, on producing the said report, the High Court would look into all the issues afresh, uninfluenced by the findings recorded in the order, taking note of the amended rules, viz. Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023,” the order stated.

The Court further said that in case the writ petition filed by the respondent gaming companies before the High Court is allowed, the order passed by the High Court “shall not be given effect to for a period of three weeks.”

On January 31 this year, a Division Bench of the High Court passed the interim order in question on a batch of petitions challenging amendments to provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act, 1974.

Various gaming platforms contended that though Online Rummy is a game of skill and exempted from the purview of the Act, even such a game of skill now attracted penalties due to amendments to Section 15 of the 1974 Act.

The High Court had said that though there is enough material in the form of judgments to show that Rummy played physically is a “game of skill” there was no material to show whether Online Rummy is a “game of skill” or a “game of chance”.

The High Court added that without knowing how it is played and the manner in which the operator functions, it may not be proper for it to come to a conclusion on disputed factual aspects.

Therefore, it ordered the constitution of a committee comprising judicial, technical and non-technical members as well as a police officer and a government representative to look into such aspects.

The committee had been ordered to examine and submit a report on the manner in which Online Rummy is played.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, along with Advocates Mahfooz Ahsan Nazki, Polanki Gowtham, KV Girish Chowdary, Niti Richhariya, Rajeswari Mukherjee and Meeran Maqbool appeared for the Andhra Pradesh government.

Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya and Advocates Durga Bose Gandham, Sanjanthi Sajan Poovayya, Himanshu Vij and Akhil Anand represented the responded gaming companies.

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