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India: Kerala HC Lifts the Ban on Online Rummy, Calls it Game of Skill

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on July 14, 2023, 17:41:00

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 Online Rummy, LIFTS BAN, SKILL

In a decision that reversed the State’s decision to ban online rummy in the state, the Kerala High Court has decided that a game of Rummy whether it is played with stakes or not, is a game of skill and cannot be banned. Here, the background is the Kerala Gaming Act of 1960, Section 14, which states that it does not apply to any game of skill. Section 14A, which was added subsequently, states that the government may exempt any game from the Act by notifying the public in the Gazette if it is convinced that the element of skill outweighs the element of chance in the game. As a result, the State issued a notification under Section 14A exempting 'rummy' from the Act, and later on exempting online rummy played with stakes. Companies aggrieved by the same approached the High Court, which decided that the state decision is arbitrary and is violative of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed to the petitioners under Article 14 [Right to Equality] and Article 19 (1) (g) [Freedom to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business].

It is to be noted that Bombay High Court had decided on this a while back holding that online games such as Dream11, where individuals bet on athletes of their choice in return of monetary rewards if their bets on their players would turn out to be true. This was also seen as a Game of Skill and was exempted from bans. However, online rummy has turned into sort of a social issue with cases of individuals losing significant amount of financial savings and even cases of suicide owing to failure.

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