The Delhi High Court conceded on Thursday that there is an amount of skill involved in every game at the same time as it asked the Centre and the AAP government to treat as a representation a public interest litigation (PIL). The PIL seeks to prohibit access to websites and mobile apps which are alleged to facilitate online gambling under the guise of fantasy game or games of skill.
The bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan told the petitioner Tarun Chandiok, a lawyer, that the representation should be decided first.
Senior advocate Rakesh Tiku, appearing for Chandiok, told the court that a representation was made to the Centre and Delhi government in September after which no further information had been received. The Delhi government had said the matter was forwarded to Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot, who also holds the Information and Technology portfolio.
Delhi government standing counsel Ramesh Singh told the court that it had dealt with a similar matter last year by disposing of it with the direction to treat it as a representation.
The bench asked the authorities to take a decision on the representation as early as possible and practicable.
Adda52 Poker, PokerStars, Zynga Poker, Teen Patti Gold, Poker Rummy and Texas Hold'em Poker are just some of the websites and apps referred to in the petition. The petitioner argues these are games of chance and, as they involve no skill, should be prohibited under existing anti-gambling laws.
However, the bench observed, "There is some amount of skill involved in every game."
Moreover, the petition had also sought a direction to the Centre to "restrain broadcasters, television channels, radio, internet companies, etc. from running advertisements, campaigns, endorsements, promotional features, etc. apropos of such illegally run gaming websites and/or mobile applications insofar as it offends the provisions of the Public Gambling Act, 1867 and the Delhi Public Gambling Act, 1955".
In addition, it had sought initiation of penal action under the provisions of the two Acts against the violators/ offenders. It also asked for the formulation of a policy and to constitute a Gaming Commission to regulate and redress the grievances of online players.
Over the last year, various PILs against online gambling have been filed. In November of last year, the High Court disposed PILs against online betting and poker.