Indian Supreme Court Deciding on Fate of Online Card Games

GavelThe question has been posed as to whether online card games, such as rummy games that are played for stakes, count as gambling in India. Some say that these games are simply tests of skill and should not be banned. The issue has reached the Supreme Court.

State governments regard these online card games as gambling, or at least, as games that will turn their players into gamblers, and thereby assuming gambling addiction will follow. In opposition to this are those companies that offer these games online. Citizens are divided on the issue.

To date, some provinces, such as Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have allowed online card games with stakes. The decision to allow these games was made by the High Courts in these areas. In other areas, such as in Madras, the High Court not only did not allow these games, the court banned both rummy and card games that were being played with stakes. These games were banned both in their online form and they were also banned in clubs. The decision to ban these games in Madras took place in March 2012. The games were banned since they were defined by the court in Madras as a form of gambling.

The companies offering the games claimed that it was not gambling because those who played on the site paid a one-off fee to the company when entering the site. The company took a percentage of the entrance fee when the players entered the site, and the rest was put into a kitty for the winner of the game. The company explained that since there was a set fee, that while they did benefit from return customers, it is not considered to be profiteering on gambling.

There were a number of other arguments put forward by the lawyers Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi who argued against the state governments in favor of the gaming companies.