SC clears air, online rummy not gambling

The bench was hearing a bunch of petitions filed by clubs and online rummy companies against the Madras High Court verdict that declared rummy for stakes as a form of gambling and hence illegal.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published:August 14, 2015 3:07 am
Supreme Court, rummy websites, illegal gambling, Madan B Lokur, S A Bobde, india news, news Supreme Court of India.

Those playing rummy, poker and other card games online for stakes do not have to worry whether it is entirely a game of sheer luck or involves skills.

The Supreme Court Thursday put rummy websites out of the ambit of its scrutiny and chose to concentrate on legality of table rummy played in clubs. These games would come under the ambit of gambling and thus illegal only if it is held that they involve chance and no skill.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and S A Bobde noted that online rummy and other card games had not been subject matter of any court order regarding their legality or otherwise, and hence any challenge pertaining to online rummy offered by such websites was pre-mature.

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“The judgment in question does not pertain to online rummy. The plea by such websites is premature. As and when this question will arise, we will deal with that, but today there is no issue to be determined,” observed a bench as it disposes a clutch of petitions by online rummy websites.

The bench was hearing a bunch of petitions filed by clubs and online rummy companies against the Madras High Court verdict that declared rummy for stakes as a form of gambling and hence illegal. However, the high courts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh found rummy as a game of skill and said it was not illegal. It was in the wake of this divergent view that the top court was approached by the clubs as well as online companies.

As far as question relating to table rummy in clubs was concerned, the bench said it would hear the arguments on Tuesday next week.

However, during the hearing, the bench expressed its surprise as to how a man can be jailed for playing rummy. It also sought the trial court records wherein people had been tried as accused for playing rummy.

While the central government has said the question of legality of such card games should be left to the top court to decide, Tamil Nadu government has taken a stand that rummy, with or without stakes, was a game of chance and would hence come under the purview of gambling.

Mahalakshmi Cultural Association, a Chennai-based club, through its lawyer Sunil Fernandes had brought the matter to the Supreme Court. It challenged a 2012 judgment of a divisional bench of the Madras High Court that ruled that playing rummy with stakes amounts to gambling.

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