Madras High Court Overturns Tamil Nadu Gambling Ban for Rummy and Poker

The Madras High Court recently ruled that the Tamil Nadu government’s ban on online gambling will be restricted only to games of chance, not games like rummy and poker. The state government had enacted the Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Act, 2022 earlier this year, which outlawed not only games of chance but also games typically held to not involve gambling components such as poker and rummy. This move came after a series of suicides in the state that were allegedly linked to online gambling-related financial losses.

This is the second time that the Tamil Nadu government has attempted to ban games like rummy and poker, with the first law being struck down by the Madras High Court in 2021. Following the enactment of the second law in April, real money skill gaming companies challenged the ban before the Madras High Court, questioning its constitutionality and arguing that states only have the power to regulate gambling, not games of skill.

Meanwhile, experts have raised concerns about the ambiguity of the law and its defiance of judicial precedents on whether states can regulate skill games. Despite the industry-led challenge, the Tamil Nadu government argued that it was well within its rights to enact the ban, claiming that it legitimately infringes on skill gaming companies’ business rights in the public interest.

Tamil Nadu’s attempts to regulate online gambling have been a long and contentious process, with the ordinance facing challenges and stalemates before ultimately coming into effect in April 2023. The All India Gaming Federation and three gaming companies filed a constitutional challenge against the ban, which led to the recent ruling by the Madras High Court.

Overall, the court’s decision represents a setback for the Tamil Nadu government’s efforts to impose a comprehensive ban on online gambling, highlighting the challenges and complexities associated with regulating online gaming and gambling activities.