Gambling cannot be viewed as a trade or business. Therefore, private companies offering online rummy with stakes cannot seek protection under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to engage in any employment, trade or business, as the state government is claiming before the Madras High Court has made.
In an affidavit filed by Attorney General Vijay Narayan before the First Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Judge Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, the government said rummy could be a game of skill, not a game of chance. However, it could be prohibited if wagering or wagering was involved in playing such a game.
The affidavit was submitted in response to a series of written petitions submitted by online gaming portals based in Haryana and other parts of the country. The petitioner companies had questioned the constitutional validity of an ordinance issued by the Tamil Nadu government in November 2020 banning all online games played with stakes in cyberspace.
No temporary relief
When senior counsel PS Raman, who represented one of the gaming portals, sought time to file a rejoinder to the government’s affidavit, the bank accepted his motion and adjourned the hearing to February 10. However, she turned down a motion from Senior Counsel Abhishek, Manu Singhvi, who is representing another firm, to provide temporary relief.
The affidavit, filed on behalf of both the Secretary General and the Home Secretary, states that seven people had committed suicide in the state in the past five years after losing money while gambling online. In addition, four other deaths and ten other criminal offenses have been reported in connection with online gambling.
A grocer in Thoothukudi district had received £ 1.25 lakh from his wife to run the store but lost all of the money gambling online. When his wife refused to part with more money, he attempted poisoning their children aged four and three, and also attempted suicide. Sathankulam police have booked a case on the matter, the government said.
“It also turns out that many children play online games with stakes. They use their parents’ credit / debit cards. Many parents have lost their hard-earned money this way. No complaint can be made about this as children play the games by agreeing to the rules set by online game companies, ”the meter reads.
To prevent such incidents from occurring, the government enacted the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Ordinance of 2020 banning online gaming with stakes by changing the relevant provisions of the Tamil Nadu Gaming Act of 1930 and the Chennai City Police Amended Act of 1888 and Tamil Nadu District Police Act of 1859, the government said.
The state also noted that on July 24, 2020, Judge B. Pugalendhi of the High Court advised that the Telangana Gaming (Amendment) Act of 2017 banned all forms of gambling other than games of skill or gambling for money. The Telangana government had also presented a bill to detain “game offenders” under the Goondas Act at its meeting.
“When the lottery threat reached its peak and sucked the blood and lives of several families, the Tamil Nadu government took a stern position in 2003 and banned the sale of all types of lotteries, including those sold online, in the territory of the State by issuing a government ordinance (GO) on January 8, 2003.
“Although the GO has been challenged in the courts, it still holds the field. Because of this order, the government prevented the suicide of people who had lost not only their hard-earned money, but also their family peace and reputation, ”Justice Pugalendhi said and proposed appropriate legislation to regulate online gaming.
Therefore, the government said this regulation was adopted in accordance with the court’s proposal.
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