Online Rummy And Online Poker May Still Be Punishable In India Despite Supreme Court’s Decision

PRAVEEN DALAL MANAGING PARTNER OF PERRY4LAW AND CEO OF PTLBOnline Gaming is a multi crore industry in India. Despite this fact, we have no dedicated Online Gaming and Online Gambling Laws in India. This has made the Legal Position regarding Online Games like Rummy, Poker, etc really confusing and murky. Due to diverse legal actions and situations, the matter has reached before the Supreme Court of India. However, there are great misunderstandings and misconceptions regarding the nature of present legal proceedings before the Indian Supreme Court.

For instance, the core issue before the Supreme Court pertains to Legality of playing Rummy with Cash Stakes. Supreme Court in this case is not concerned with Online Rummy and it is definitely not concerned with Online Poker. However, Online Gaming Entrepreneurs are very hopeful with the decision of the Supreme Court that may be pronounced in late 2014 or in the year 2015.

Rummy has already been pronounced to be a “Game of Skill” by Indian Supreme Court on numerous counts and there is nothing new about this “Settled Legal Position” in the present litigation. What is new is the declaration to be made by Supreme Court whether Rummy can be played with Cash Stakes and whether Online Rummy is Legal or Illegal in India?” Presently the Indian Supreme Court is considering the Cash Stakes aspect and there are no hints that Legality of Online Rummy would also be adjudicated upon by the Court. Further, parallel analogy and interpretation vis-à-vis Online Poker is not only misplaced but is also not in question before the Supreme Court of India.

The major “Legal Fallacy” in the Online Gaming business activities in India is that entrepreneurs are applying the offline world’s standards and rules to the online environment. This is the reason that Supreme Court of India may not adjudicate upon the online part of gaming activities in India. And applying the offline version of the gaming activities to online games, including upon Online Poker and Online Rummy, by Gaming Entrepreneurs of India is “Not a Legally Sound Strategy”.

Even if the Supreme Court reiterates that Rummy is a “Game of Skill” and declare that Cash Stakes are allowed, this decision would not make Playing, Displaying and Hosting of Online Rummy in India “Automatically Legal”. Online Rummy and Online Poker would still remain Illegal unless certain Techno Legal Compliances are followed by the Gaming Entrepreneurs of India. In short, Online Rummy and Online Poker may still be an Offence and Punishable in India unless proper Cyber Law Due Diligence (PDF) and Techno Legal Compliances are followed by Gaming Entrepreneurs.