Online gaming websites ranging from poker, rummy, card games, etc have been in a fix as to the legality of running such websites in India. Till now the matter was pending for adjudication before the Supreme Court of India and they were hoping that the legality or illegality of such online poker or online rummy websites would be decided by the Supreme Court very soon.
The position on date is that online card games websites in India are already in limbo and now the Supreme Court of India has made this position more uncertain and legally vulnerable. As per the latest order of the Supreme Court, it has refused to decide the legality or illegality of online games like poker, rummy, etc. The Supreme Court has clarified that the present petitions before it pertain to offline rummy only and managing online rummy or online poker is still a legally risky area.
Supreme Court has categorically mentioned that it would not decide the legality of online poker or online rummy till the Indian government comes out with a policy decision in this regard. In the past Supreme Court asked the Indian government to clarify its stand regarding online rummy but the government refused to provide any opinion in this regard. Thus, legality of online poker or online rummy is still a grey area and online gaming and gambling stakeholders must comply with the applicable laws of India till Indian government comes up with some policy or law in this regard.
Now the ball is in Indian government’s court and it has to come up with rules and regulations regarding online game and online gambling activities in India. The Indian government has to decide not only about the skills versus gambling criteria but also the techno legal aspects that are attributable to use of technology.
With the present Supreme Court’s order, cyber law due diligence (PDF) has become a necessity for online poker and rummy websites. Most of them have failed to address crucial techno legal aspects by presuming that online rummy or online poker are legally permissible in India. It is true that till now managing online poker or online rummy activities in India are not governed by a dedicated legal framework but this is no reason to ignore the provisions of Information Technology Act, 2000 and other applicable laws of India.
It would be a fatal mistake to assume that the refusal by the Supreme Court to decide about the legality of online rummy or online poker is a fee licence to engage in these activities. On the contrary, it is a warning sign that the entire business structure revolving around online gaming and gambling industry of India need to be in strict compliance with applicable laws of India.
Perry4Law hopes that the online rummy and online poker stakeholders would appreciate the seriousness of the situation and make their business activities and websites law compliant and this starts with drafting of appropriate terms and conditions and other legal documents for the websites.