The long standing question on people’s mind pertaining online rummy is its legality as it is perceived in akin with betting and gambling. The is not an Res Integra question as the Apex Court has already delivered a judgment on the issue as that the game of rummy is legal as the rummy is a game of skill and not a game of chance. In pursuance of Article 19(1) (g), playing a game of skill is considered as business under the aforementioned Article and which is legal. [State of Andra Pradesh v. K Satyanarayana and Ors] However, the states have been given with the liberty to decide whether or not to affirm the legality of the game rummy in the state premises with the respective state laws. The following are the states that has banned the online game of rummy as it is being the state-specific matter,

  • Karnataka 
  • Andra Pradesh 
  • Odisha 
  • Meghalaya
  • Sikkim
  • Nagaland 
  • Telangana 
  • Assam 

Legality of Rummy in Maharashtra:

As far as the state of Maharashtra is concerned, a similar stand as of Supreme Court has been taken by the state. To the general knowledge, the Maharashtra Gambling Law regulated by the Maharashtra Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887 follows the National Public Gambling Act and the games that are tagged as game of chance are illegal whereas the rest are legal. Since card games like rummy and poker are belongs to the category of game of skill and not game of chance, hence, the rummy is not an illegal to be played in Maharashtra. Even though a catena of writ petition has been filed in the Mumbai High Court seeking the ban on rummy, the state government has not made it illegal despite being directed by the high court to take a stand on the issue as most of the petitions confronted that the playing rummy is an illegal activity, which is against the larger public interest.

Tamil Nadu’s Position in Online Gambling:

Playing rummy or other online games with stakes is Legal in Tamil Nadu. Even many Politicians and social activists are completely against it. Erstwhile government under former chief minister EPS amended a law (Tamil Nadu Police gaming and police laws Act ) to ban online games including rummy and poker on the ground stating that youngsters and adults are losing money because of it, which leads to mental depression and suicide and cites many suicidal cases. But a case was filed against this amendment stating that it would violate Article 19(1)(g)to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade, or business. 

As a result of this suit, Madras High Court struck down the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act 2021 The panel of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthil Kumar Ramamoorthy reiterated the fact that a ban on skill games such as online rummy is not right as per Article 19 (1) (g). Seeking restoration of the ban, the state government in its appeal told the SC that the HC erred in declaring that the state government lacked legislative competence to adopt the 2021 Amendment Act.

TN CM Stalin’s Notion:-

“There will be an end to online gaming with stakes in Tamil Nadu soon”, chief minister MK Stalin said on Thursday in the state assembly in response to a question raised by MLA R Vaithilingam.

Legality of Rummy in Karnataka:

There was a case that filed before the High court of Karnataka to dispose the petition that was filed against the state new law. The petitioner of the case is Games24, Gameskarft, and All India Gaming Federation. The petitioner argued against the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Compliance Act, which says that all gaming platform are cognizable and non-bailable offence. This case was heard by Chief Justice Ritu Raj Aswathi and Justice Krishna S Dixit. The court said that, the act cannot be strike down completely, but made some changes. So the court allowed the game but restricted for the use of money. The court said that the state protects the people from losing money. 

The companies argued that the game have specific skill, that have been clubbed with games in definition of gaming. They also argued and successfully won the case by mentioning no act should violate Article 19(g) of Indian Constitution, that to practice any profession, or to carry any occupation, trade or business. This was accepted by the Tamil Nadu and Kerala High court. 

In Karnataka, there was bill passed by the State Legislature the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Compliance Act in September 2021 and came to force in October 5.

The Karnataka High Court banned the rummy, under Karnataka Police (Amendment) Compliance Act 2021.

Legality of Rummy in Kerala:

The Rummy is game which inclusively contains poker game plus gambling with money so government imposed a notice to ban the online rummy as the rummy is increasing the social problems and in some case it leads a person to suicide, Kerala government has tried to ban the online rummy as it violates the article 19 of the constitution argument aroused between 5 companies and Kerala government in that argument it is proved that online rummy is the game of skill as the poker need some kind of skills to play but the government side argument is that playing rummy is the “game of chance” and not “game of skill”. Section 14 of the Kerala gaming act protects the online games which contain skill, so Kerala high court rejected the allegation towards the ban of online rummy.

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Karthikeyan.N

B.A., B.L., (Hons) IPDP., (London)
Pgd IPR., Pgd Cyber Law., Msc., (IT)
CCI., CFA., IPCL.,
Advocate, Madras High Court

Karthikeyan, is a renowned cyber law expert, who is also the Managing Partner of Law Office of Karthikeyan, a reputed law firm based in Chennai.

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