The Gujarat High Court had reserved its order on a PIL that was seeking a ban on online gambling, particularly the game of rummy. The Gujarat High Court has observed that the present legal framework in reference to gambling should be regulated, updated to include online gambling and has directed the state government to look into the issue of it.
The court said that the existing Gujarat Prevention of Gambling Act-1887 remains silent on the issue, more particularly online rummy, even as it presents many of the same concerns that the traditional gambling activities have raised throughout the years. The HC also said that while the Supreme Court has held rummy as a game of skill, “The question is whether what is being played is rummy in its true sense or is it just pure gambling ?”
A division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice J B Pardiwala had earlier pointed out that the amended definition of ‘common gaming house’, as per the Telangana Gaming Act, 1974, indicates that gaming includes online gaming for money or any other stakes. The bench directed the Gujarat government to deal with the issue of online gaming which involves gambling, as gaming is a subject matter of the state government according to List II of Schedule VII of the Constitution of India.
It has ruled out that, “If any website is operating from the state of Gujarat or is engaged in any gambling games, the state shall deal with the same in accordance with law, rules, regulations and the policy as applicable. We expect the state government to promptly look into the aforesaid issues and take an appropriate decision in accordance with law in larger public interest before it is too late”.
Elaborating on the issue of morality, the court said, “Internet gambling presents uneasiness about the morality of the activity; the likelihood of addiction; the possibility of fraud; and the conflict between the state versus central regulations. The questions of morality primarily surfaces in connection with the accessibility to children, because children have unlimited access to the computers and the Internet these days. The supporters of a ban of Internet gambling maintain that outlawing the activity for all individuals is the only way to ensure that a segment of the population, children, will be adequately protected from corruption.”
This means an individual would get arrested only if he is caught playing cards outside/in a gambling den in Gujarat, as per the definition of the term ‘common gaming house’ under section 4 of the Act. Whereas an individual playing online rummy cannot be arrested or booked for the offence of gambling.
Amit Nair is the petitioner who filed the PIL and urged the High Court to declare illegal gambling in the virtual space through mobile or computer, particularly online rummy, and to be in violation of the Gujarat Prevention of Gambling Act. To know more about online gambling, stay tuned to GutshotMagazine.com