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High stakes Mahalakshmi rummy matter heard by SC for 4 hours, judgment likely in few days



A new Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Madan Lokur and SA Bobde heard the Mahalakshmi Cultural Association (“rummy for stakes”) matter today, which involves a few rummy clubs and online rummy companies such as Head Infotech, Playgames 24×7 and Junglee Rummy.  Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Senior Advocate and Member of Parliament appearing on behalf of online rummy companies argued in favour of allowing online rummy without any restrictions for about four hours before the matter was adjourned for the day. Dr. Singhvi pointed out to the bench that once a game is declared to be one involving substantial and preponderant degree of skill, it is excluded  from the ambit of gambling and none of the provisions of any gaming statutes, including criminal liability is attracted.

Dr. Singhvi further argued that the format, venue and stakes involved in the game of rummy is irrelevant because of the 1967 decision of the Supreme Court in State of Andhra Pradesh v. K. Satyanarayana. Although the bench gave a patient hearing to the counsel for online rummy companies, it had certain questions about the degree of skill involved in online rummy. However, the request by the counsel appearing for the State of Tamil Nadu for grant of more time to counter the arguments of online rummy companies was rejected by the court and the bench has directed the matter to be listed again tomorrow, i.e. on 13th August. The state and other parties are therefore likely to make their final submissions in the matter tomorrow.

It is likely that the bench will hear submissions of all the parties tomorrow and either reserve the order or indicate the timelines by which it intends to dispose off the matter. Any decision of the Supreme Court is likely to impact the entire skill games industry in India which is growing at a rapid pace, with few gaming companies said to be valued at over hundred crore rupees.

Jay has researched extensively on gaming laws and has been cited by various media houses and journals as an expert. He has helped leading newspapers in their stories on gaming laws. Jay completed his B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) degree from NUJS, Kolkata in 2015 and is currently based out of Mumbai.