Tamil Nadu introduced a new law banning “online gambling and games of chance” in the wake of rising gambling-related suicides in the state. While the law was enacted on April 21 according to a gazette notification, gaming companies in India are already gearing up to fight it in court.
For now, gaming companies have to stop offering any games of chance or online gambling platforms in the state right away. However, Tamil Nadu’s law is taking a different stance on what a “game of chance” might be and directly conflicts with decisions upheld by courts across India.
The most prominent example of this is the fact that Tamil Nadu’s law explicitly states that online games like rummy and poker and games of chance, despite the fact that the Madras High Court and the Indian Supreme Court have declared these to be games of skill instead, which the state has no power to regulate.
Several online rummy and poker platforms including A23, Classic Rummy, RummyCircle and Pokerbaazi had already restricted users from playing paid games in the state. However, considering the high rummy penetration in India’s southern states, gaming companies are fighting back with the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) and several real-money gaming firms Gameskraft, Games24x7 and Head Digital Works have moved the Madras High Court challenging the new law as reported by Moneycontrol.
This isn’t the first time the Tamil Nadu government has tried to ban rummy, poker and other games that it classifies as games of chance either. The state government did pass a similar law earlier, but it was struck down by the Madras High Court in 2021 for affecting skill-based gaming companies’ right to do business in the state. The current law, in addition to carrying some of the same concerns its predecessor did, also goes against the Indian government’s recently published rules regulating online gaming.
At the end of the day, the onus here is on the gaming companies themselves, as the Android and iOS app stores operated by Google and Apple respectively clearly state in their current policies that apps offering real money gaming, lotteries or gambling platforms need to have the required licenses and permissions required in order to offer their services in any Indian state or territory.
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