Since the Mahabharata card games have been a hot-button issue, both officially
and illegally. Nowadays, because the law prohibits money transactions depending
on fate, the hazards of a game involving consideration are treated more
seriously than they were in the past. It's imperative that regulations governing
internet access be enforced in light of the ease with which it can be accessed
by anyone. Those in a nation like India, where literacy is low, are more likely
to hunt for ways to make quick money, hence regulations governing this need to
be treated seriously.
Online Gaming: What Are The Legal Conditions?
Offline as well as online types of gaming and gambling, including the game of
skill and indeed the game of chance, are each recognised by law. Gambling
doesn't include games of chance, such as poker or chess. Each state can decide
on its own whether or not an activity is a "game of skill." As a general rule,
most states allow games of skill to be excluded from their gambling laws because
of a lack of precise definition or enumeration of which games fit into this
As a result, what is legal in one state but illegal in another is
possible. Several Indian states, notably Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya
Pradesh, have ratified the "Public Gambling Act of 1867", which is the
central law in this area. As a result, several Indian states have enacted
similar legislation to control gaming and gambling.
While internet gambling has been legal in India for some time now, state
legislatures still refer to "gambling" primarily in the context of "physical
premises," with the exception of Nagaland and Sikkim having passed legislation
specifically addressing the legality of online gambling. Various Indian states,
excluding Odisha and Assam, have removed 'games of skill' from the operation of
their gaming/gambling legislation when it comes to internet gambling.
"Poker online or in person" are legal in Sikkim, Nagaland and West Bengal, but
only with permission from the appropriate state authorities. Nonetheless, this
will only take place inside the state's borders. At Goa, you can only gamble in
casinos that have been approved by the government.
Judicial Creativity With Respect To Online Card Games
An Indian Supreme Court decision in 1968, in the judgement of "State of Andhra
Pradesh vs. K. Satyanarayana
," declared "Rummy to be a game of skill." As a
result, the Andhra Pradesh High Court ruled that if the gaming establishment
makes money from Rummy, it is breaking the law. This game, which runs by many
nicknames, like flush, brag, and many more, is a purely chance game.
If ever a game is played for finances, it isn't gambling, according to the Court
in the decision of "Gaussian Network Pvt. Ltd. vs. Monica Lakhanpal." However,
online games can't be compared to real-world games because they don't meet the
definition of gambling. Aside from that, the Supreme Court ruled that utilizing
prize money to encourage business or entice gamers is prohibited, and if
internet sites are taking a piece of the winning hand, this is illegal since
they seem to be a virtual gambling establishment.
No court in India had ever meticulously discussed whether Poker is a "game of
skill" or "game of chance" well before the judgement of "Dominance Games
Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Gujarat." Poker was found to be a "game of chance
under the Gujarat Prevention of Gambling Act, 1887," and consequently a form of
Gamers in Poker really have no authority or claim over the cards they
receive, and the final outcome is completely determined by chance or destiny,
depending on how well the cards are negotiated. The Jury made this observation.
Poker is a form of bluffing / lying, even the "tactic" of throwing on a poker
face isn't really a skill.
A player's option of spending money and the size of
his bank account also have a role in the outcome. However, Rummy differs from
poker in that it involves bluffing and deceiving your opponents in order to win.
Rummy, on the other hand, does not feature stakes or necessitate wagering,
unlike Poker, which does.
Whenever it pertains to card games, online and offline gambling regulations
should be the same because it doesn't matter if the money is being exchanged
online or offline.
It is clear from all of the rulings that courts believe that gambling that
relies more on chance than ability is unlawful. These rulings demonstrate once
again that any card game arrangement including mandatory stakes and also no
skill will be judged illegal.
Once a game has already been identified as a game of skill, even so, playing it
with stakes isn't really illegal, as we saw in the decision of "Gaussian Network
Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Monica Lakhanpal
." When something refers to financial
transactions, the Court throughout this instance made it plain that playing
skill games offline and online isn't the same thing. However, because this
lawsuit was withdrawn, it could not serve as a precedent.
Even if such unlawful gambling isn't outlawed, it will still happen, because
illegal gambling that is carried out in secret generates untaxed revenue. Aside
from Nagaland, no other state has strict regulations on games of skill; instead,
the industry governs itself. There should be a legal structure in place for
gambling in a nation like India, where illiteracy encourages individuals to look
for easier methods to make money.
For example, the Rummy Federation has its own
self-regulation standards for advertising, playing, taxation, and so on. It's
worth noting that throughout the shutdown, different online games were
advertised as being playable 24/7 on these platforms and that they might be utilised to alleviate social or financial concerns. In order for online gambling
to be lawful, the government is required to become involved.
There are several debates on the internet over whether or not illegal gambling
should indeed be outlawed. It's a much more balanced opinion for the very same
reason that illicit gambling is conducted underground and generates black money,
that this will happen anyway. It is easier to deal with a gambling problem like
tax evasion if there are rules in place. Aside from Nagaland, neither state has
strict regulations on games of skill; instead, the industry governs itself.
be clear, I am not advocating that the Indian government should pass laws on
everything and anything. But given the high rate of illiteracy in the continent,
it makes sense that the Indian government would benefit from some sort of legal
framework. For example, the Rummy Federation has its own self-regulation
standards for advertising, playing, taxation, and so on.
A further notable
example is online ludo. Fate and talent have a role in Ludo, in my opinion, as
dice numbers are determined based on a player's skill. While the lockdown was in
effect, the game was advertised as being able to be played at any time of day or
night on various platforms and as a means of solving social or financial issues.
In order for online gambling to be lawful, the government needs to become
Written By: Adv. Shashwata Sahu
- LL.M., KIIT School of Law