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Madras HC suggests regulatory body for online games

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The Madras High Court has observed that the Central and State Government could pass legislation regulating and controlling online games like Rummy that involves money.

“This Court is not against the virtual games, but, the anguish of this Court is that there should be a regulatory body to monitor and regulate the legal gaming activities, be it in the real world or the virtual world”, said the Court in its order.  

The comment emanates from a plea to quash a case against one among five defendants who had been caught a card came (with money), under Section 12 of the Tamil Nadu Gaming Act, 1930.

The prosecution explained the case from the police’s version. The accused had been found playing on the evening of June 5, “in a thorny bush” near Kaduthula Junction. The accused and cards and money were confiscated. The petitioner, however, said he was not part of the game, but was just watching when the police suddenly entered the farm and arrested all.

The critic issue in judging the situation was whether the game had taken place in a “common gaming house” under the Tamil Nadu Gaming Act, 1930. 

The single-judge bench of Justice Justice B Pugalendhi found that since the petitioner had not participated in the game and because the game was being played in a thorny bush, not in a gaming house, no case was made against the petitioner. Hence the bench quashed the proceedings against the petitioner.

The Court in its order has observed that “India has a rich heritage with a diverse range of sports / games. Sports is not only an important source of entertainment, but also imparts value of hard work, discipline and co-operation. To regulate the physical sports / games, we are having a legislative set up, but having such a set up to deal with the emerging online games / virtual games is the need of the hour”.

“We should not loose sight of the fact that nowadays, almost in all the social media, youngsters are being attracted, to play such online games, by alluring with prize money. Gaming sites are also partaking a slice on the winning hand, as of a virtual gambling house. In fact, these online games lure the unemployed youth that they can earn money by playing these games”, said the Court.

In delivering his order, the judge made an interesting observation. He said: “Not only in the state of Tamil Nadu, but also in the entire country, such online games, viz., Rummy, Passion, Nazara, Leo Vegas, Spartan Poker, Ace2Three, PokerDangal, Pocket52, My11Circle, Genesis Casino, etc., are mushrooming and there are so many advertisements appearing in almost all the social media and websites. It appears these advertisements are mostly targeting the unemployed youth, inducing them to play such games, on the pretext of earning money comfortably from their homes.”

The bench added that since there are various laws regulating physical sports, similar legislation was required for online games. “A comprehensive regulatory framework by a regulatory body is necessary to regulate the online sports and to curb any illegal activities as well. In fact, such regulation of online sports would encourage investment in the sector, which could lead to technological advancements as well as generation of revenue and employment.”

Read the order here;

D-Siluvai-Venance-v-State-July-24-order-1

-India Legal Bureau

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