The Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021
was introduced by
Tamil Nadu in their Legislative Assembly in February, 2021. The main objective
is to ban wagering or betting in cyber space by amending the Tamil Nadu Gaming
Act, 1930 and extending its application throughout the state.
Following changes were made to various sections:
- Section 2 is substituted to extend the application of the Act to the
whole state of Tamil Nadu.
- Section 3 is substituted to introduce certain definitions in the Act. It defines
gaming to include any game which involves wagering or betting either in person
or in cyberspace. However, it does not include a lottery.
It also prescribes the punishment if any person is found indulging in any of the
The Bill states that any person who wagers or bets or facilitates or organizes
such wager or bet, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding two years
or with fine of up to ten thousand rupees or with both.
Sections Prior To Amendment Section 4(1) Of 1930 Act
It talks about punishment for certain forms of gaming where the owner occupies
or uses any room, tent, vehicle etc for the purpose of any form of Games which
lead to betting examples are horse races, on the market price of cotton, bullion
or other commodity, on the market price of any stock.
Further, it talks about
advances or furnishes money for the purpose of gaming on any of the objects
frequenting any such house, room, tent, enclosure, vehicle, vessel or place.
Such person would be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to
two years and with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees.
parts of Section 4 talks about being involved in the prohibited acts of gaming,
and also stipulated the punishments for such incidental activities. However, the
other activities indicated in sub-clauses (ii) to (v) of Section 4(1)(a) of the
1930 Act are games of pure chance. Residuary sub-clause (vi) also prohibits any
transaction or scheme of wagering or betting where the outcome depends on
chance. Thus, the mischief that the original statute sought to address was the
betting on games of chance.
Section 3(A) Of 1930 Act
This sections talks about wagering or betting in Cyber Space where it prohibits
any sort of wagering or betting via computers, computer systems, networks etc or
any other instrument of gaming by playing Rummy, Poker or any other game or
facilitate or organize any such wager or bet in cyberspace. Whoever is found
guilty under this section can be imprisoned for 2 years alongside a fine not
exceeding 10,000 rupees.
Concept Of Bucket Shop
A bucket shop is a brokerage firm that engages in unethical business practices.
Historically, the term was used to refer to firms that allowed their customers
to gamble on stock prices, often using dangerously high levels of leverage. More
recently, the term is associated with firms that practice bucketing, which
involves profiting from a client's trades without their knowledge. The Madras
City Police (Amendment) Act, 1929 was designed to deal with bucket shops in the
City of Madras. It also combines, in the same Bill, the provisions of the Madras
City Police Act, 1888, and the Towns Nuisances Act, 1889, which relate to gaming
and the keeping of a common gaming-house.
Section 11 talks about games of skills where Nothing in sections 5 to 10 of this
Act shall be held to apply to games of mere skill wherever played. Further,
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, Sections 3A and Sections 5 to 10
shall apply to games of mere skill, if played for wager, bet, money or other
Arguments By Both Parties
- Petitioners argued that prohibiting these games of skills, if played for any
prize or stakes, will disregard the law laid down by the Supreme Court since
these games come under business activities. Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution
of India protects business activities. (The primary ground urged to assail the
impugned legislation is in it apparently prohibiting games of skill, if played
for any prize or stakes; which, according to the petitioners, is in flagrant
disregard of the law laid down by the Supreme Court that competitions in games
of skill are business activities and, thus, protected under Article 19(1)(g) of
the Constitution of India)- Para 5 of the judgement.
- Further, the petitioners who solely provide a cyberspace for playing these games
argue that it is only the person who plays the game that can place a bet and no
person not playing can bet on a game, or on its outcome, or on the successful
player, or on anything else at all. (Para 15 of the judgement)
- The rummy companies contend that games of skill are distinct as a class and have
been judicially differentiated in this country from games of chance.
- According to the petitioners, States do not have any legislative competence over
games of skill, but may regulate games of chance. This, according to them, is a
rational distinction that goes to the very root of competence. (Para 17 of the
- They further maintain that the amendments result in manifest arbitrariness as
the prohibition introduced thereby are blanket, disproportionate and excessive.
(Para 18 of the judgement).
- The petitioners argued upon the fact that Second List of the Seventh Schedule to
the Constitution — "Betting and gambling" — is limited to the transfer of stake
on chance only. They suggest that competitions limited to events of chance may
even be prohibited by the State. (Para 19 of the judgement)
- Further, the petitioners refer to the doctrine of res extra commercium which
suggests that the expression "games of mere skill", as contained in Section 11
of the Act prior to the recent amendment, was judicially interpreted to imply
games predominantly involving skill.1 These petitioners concede that every
future event depends, at least theoretically, on an element of chance, but the
activities understood as gaming involve almost no skill or the skill component
- The Petitioners argued how rummy is a game of skill and not chance. 2
- Further the Petitioners argued about Article 19(1)(g) where the Supreme Court
observed that citizens are free to choose any trade, business, calling or
profession and the manner and terms in which they carry on their profession; but
the State may, in the interest of the general public, impose reasonable
restrictions which may be thought necessary.3
- They submitted that there are three types of games: points rummy; pool rummy;
and, tournament rummy. A minimum of two persons can play at a table and a
maximum of six. No spectators can gain access to watch a game and only the
players actually playing the game are the persons at the relevant table. It is
submitted that two decks of cards are ordinarily used on the basis of a random
number generation software developed by the world leaders in such field, iTech
Labs of Australia. (Para 67 of the judgement).
- The state argued that any kind of betting and/or gambling breeds an
immoral culture especially for the economically weaker sections of the
society. Socially backward people along with economically weaker sections
suffer the most from gambling since it becomes an addiction. • Further, The
state argues how gambling and betting leads to suicides upon a punter losing
his all during the game.
- Further, the state argues how some of these games conducted online are
manipulated and alludes to the players being repeatedly cheated upon. (it seeks
to assert the virtues of life without betting and gambling, the immorality
involved in gaming and the ill-effects of gambling on large swathes of the
society, particularly those from the economically weaker and socially backward
sections. The State claims that even suicides have taken place upon a punter
losing his all by playing one card game or the other on the internet. The State
refers also to the possibility and likelihood of manipulation in games conducted
on the virtual mode and repeatedly alludes to players and others being cheated,
without indicating any material or particulars in such regard despite the
court's prodding)- Para 6 of the judgement.
- The State says that the very nature of the games which have been prohibited is
such that an initial amount is deposited by the player following which the
player keeps betting with more sums of money depending upon the fall of cards;
and, given the addictive tendency that such games prey on, the player tends to
raise his stakes in the hope of a bigger win. (Para 70 of the judgement). • The
State contends that the petitioners cannot assert any right under Article
19(1)(g) of the Constitution because the games offered amount to
gambling/betting activity despite being a game of skill since it is being
played for a financial or other stake.
- The state further argued on Prohibition where the power to regulate includes the
power to prohibit. 4
The court said Every game or like activity depends on an element of chance.
Irrespective of what meanings are ascribed to these words in dictionaries,
gambling is equated with gaming and the activity involves chance to such a
predominant extent that the element of skill that may also be involved cannot
control the outcome.
A game of skill on the other hand, may not necessarily be such an activity where
skill must always prevail; however, it would suffice for an activity to be
regarded as a game of skill if, ordinarily, the exercise of skill can control
the chance element involved in the activity such that the better skilled would
prevail more often than not.
The Court observed that gambling is equated with gaming and the activity
involves chance to such a predominant extent that the element of skill that may
also be involved cannot control the outcome. Whereas, a 'game of skill' on the
other hand includes the exercise of skill that can overpower that chance element
involved in the activity such that the better skilled would prevail more often
than not. The Court held that games such as rummy and poker cannot be banned by
the impugned legislation and that the legislation is 'manifestly arbitrary' and
ultra vires of the Constitution.
Games like Rummy are games of skills as proven by the petitioner. It is very
necessary to understand the difference between games of chance and games of
skills. Some might argue that games like Ludo is a game of chance whereas I
believe that it is a game of skill. A game of chance could be Snakes and Ladders
where all a person does is roll the dice.
I completely agree with the court's judgement where they have pointed out how
States often take a paternalistic point of view. It is indeed the state which
can take actions when such games create a negative impact. In this scenario, the
petitioners rightly proved how Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian constitution is
being violated. As long as these games come under ' Games of Skills', they
should not be banned and the Madras High Court rightly uplifted the ban on them.
- R.M.D.Chamarbaugwala v. Union of India AIR 1957 SC 628
- State of Andhra Pradesh v. K.Satyanarayana AIR 1968 SC 825
- B.P.Sharma v. Union of India (2003) 7 SCC 309
- State of Gujarat v. Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kassab and Others (2005) 8 SCC