The Madras high court on Tuesday declared the law enacted by the Tamil Nadu government banning online betting games like rummy and poker as ultra vires of the Constitution. The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy observed that the legislation is ‘excessive and disproportionate’ to its object.
The court passed the order on a batch of pleas moved by online gaming companies challenging the validity of the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021.
The petitioners contended that they had been running legitimate business across the country. When it is legitimate in other parts of the country, it cannot be banned as illegitimate in Tamil Nadu.
“Since 1968 the Supreme Court has made it clear that rummy is a game of skill and not a game of chances. Therefore, online rummy cannot be banned,” the companies said.
When rummy is allowed to be played physically in clubs, the same cannot be banned online. Playing rummy would not amount to betting or gambling like three cards, they added.
Opposing the plea, the state government submitted that young teenagers and adults of age group 25 to 30 were losing their entire earnings and savings by playing such online betting games. Rummy might be a game of skill but when it is played for stakes, it becomes gambling, the state said.