At Perry4Law we are frequently approached by online cards and non cards games providers to ascertain the legality of their business models. We guide them as per their business models and requirements but there cannot be a single solution for various gaming stakeholders. This is because different states have different laws regarding online gaming and gambling in India.
Some stakeholders have already approached the Supreme Court of India to get clarity on the legality of online games like rummy, poker, etc. In response of the same, the Supreme Court asked the opinion of Central Government in this regard but the same has been informally denied by the Central Government. This means that till the time Supreme Court actually says that online rummy, online poker and online card games are legal in India, majority of these gaming stakeholders may be exposing themselves to legal risks and civil and criminal liabilities.
Another problem related to this litigation is that this is an issued between parties to the litigation alone and other cannot derive benefit out of this litigation even if the ultimate decision allows online poker and rummy in India. This is the reason that many gaming companies have approached the Supreme Court to implead them as necessary party to this litigation. While this may be beneficial to clarify the position regarding these additional parties as well yet it would also make them bound the decision of Supreme Court. If an adverse decision is given by the Supreme Court, that would be binding on them as well.
Another related problem with the proceedings taking place at the Supreme Court is that till the time Supreme Court decides this issue, various High Courts would not touch the games with stakes issue at all. This is more so regarding online poker and rummy legal issues as the matter is pending before the Supreme Court.
This is exactly what is happening in India as on date. It has been reported that the Hyderabad High Court has refused to grant relief to clubs in the city who wanted the Hyderabad police prevented from interfering or obstructing in any manner from running card rooms on club premises where members and guests are allowed to play rummy with stakes.
Justice Vilas V. Afzulpurkar was dealing with a petition by the managements of Chiran Fort Club and nine others challenging the action of the police in closing their card rooms. The petitioners contended that in view of the declaration of the Supreme Court in the case of Kishan Chander versus state of Madhya Pradesh, the game of Rummy is not entirely a game of chance and is a game of skill. So the closure of card rooms by the police was illegal.
While refusing interim relief, the judge said in view of new findings in a similar case by the SC and the Madras HC, the case needs a detailed examination to determine whether playing Rummy with stakes will attract provisions under the Gambling Act or not. This is a logical conclusion as the issue of playing poker or rummy with stakes is still not clear despite the contrary beliefs. It is certainly very risky when it comes to online poker and online rummy in India.
Online card games websites may be legally risky if not properly drafted and managed. In fact a majority of online poker and rummy websites are flouting laws of India and they can be punished any time by the Government.
Perry4Law strongly recommends that till the time Indian Supreme Court or Central Government clarifies the legal position regarding online gaming in India, the online gaming/gambling stakeholders must comply with existing and applicable techno legal requirements of Indian laws.