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Tamil Nadu May Challenge Madras HC Ruling Partially Striking Down Gambling Ban Before Supreme Court: Report

The ban in question was brought by the Tamil Nadu govt earlier this year prohibiting online skill games (like rummy and poker) along with gambling and was struck down by the Madras High Court in November.

We missed this earlier: The Tamil Nadu government may be preparing a Supreme Court challenge against a recent Madras High Court judgment partially striking down its 2023 ban on skill games (or non-gambling games) under a larger prohibition on online gambling, Gateway to Gaming reported.

Last week’s revelation came as the Supreme Court heard the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments’ challenges against High Courts striking down their online gambling bans a few years ago. The matter will be listed after five weeks.

The winding legal history: Both states prohibited online games of skill (or non-gambling games) under their bans, which led to various courts striking down the laws for being overreaching and unconstitutional, amongst other things. Karnataka’s law was struck down by the Karnataka High Court in 2022, while Tamil Nadu’s was quashed by the Madras High Court in 2021. Both states challenged these verdicts before the Supreme Court, which is what the current case is about.

Then, earlier this year, following rising gaming-related suicides in the state, the Tamil Nadu government brought a similar gambling ban once again prohibiting online skill games (like rummy and poker). After being swiftly challenged by online real money gaming companies, this portion of the law was specifically struck down by the Madras High Court in November. This is what the Tamil Nadu government may be gearing up to challenge before the Supreme Court.

Last week’s proceedings: Appearing for the online real money skill gaming industry body All India Gaming Federation, Senior Advocate Aryama Sundaram argued that the Tamil Nadu’s government’s challenge against the 2021 ruling was “infructuous” (or unnecessary), as even the state’s newer ban had been partially struck down by the courts. Appearing for online rummy companies, Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya added that the Indian government has legislative competence over regulating the online skill gaming sector (remember, states in India only have powers to regulate gambling games).

Appearing for the Tamil Nadu government, Additional Advocate General Amit Anand Tiwari rebutted that the questions of law in the gambling ban cases require consideration, and need to be decided on by the Supreme Court.

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