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Any online game involving money has to be held illegal: Delhi Court

A Delhi court has said that any online
games involving money cannot be held to be legal in the states which prohibit
gambling and websites hosting them cannot be given any protection under the
Constitution. The court has also said that banks too can deny these entities providing
their normal services, reports The Asian Age.

A Delhi court has said that any online
games involving money cannot be held to be legal in the states which prohibit
gambling and websites hosting them cannot be given any protection under the
Constitution. The court has also said that banks too can deny these entities providing
their normal services, reports The Asian Age.

“Online gaming, even pertaining to the
games of skill, offered by websites involving money cannot be held to be legal
and therefore banks can refuse to provide normal banking services to such
websites,” Additional District Judge (ADJ) Ina Malhotra said.

The order came on a petition filed by an
internet startup company founded by an IIT Delhi alumni and some others having
experience in internet and financial domains. The company, in its petition,
said that it is proposing to launch a website offering six games — Chess,
Billiards, Rummy, Poker, Bridge and Snooker. It sought court’s opinion on
various aspects including whether these six games are ‘games of skills’ and if
wagering and betting on games of skill makes it a gambling activity.

The company, in its petition, had said on
February 14 this year, it entered into an agreement with an independent
investor, wanting to make financial contribution which would grant it a share
in the equity in the business. It said the investor has agreed to invest a sum
of Rs. 5 lakh subject to the court’s opinion on the legalities of the issues
involved in this business.

It said the six games are categorised and
recognised as ‘games of skill’ and the company did not bet against any of its
players and charges a limited commission of under five per cent on the winning
hand.

The court, in its order, also dealt with
the queries posed by the petitioner firm regarding protection under Article 19
(1)(g) of the Constitution which deals with right to practice any profession
and carry out any trade or business.

“Sports betting is an offence in India
and bookies earning money from bets laid on games of skill cannot be granted
protection under Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution. So, while betting
or playing for money among players on a game of golf, chess, bridge or
billiards may be permitted, they cannot be considered legal if operated by a
gaming house. Such an online ‘business activity’ would not be protected under
Article 19 (1)(g) of the Indian Constitution,” the order has stated.

Holding that advertising or promoting such
websites has to be curtailed, the court said “sponsors advertising or
promoting their own products on such sites also attract penal
consequences.”

It said though the “payment gateways for
gambling are blocked by the Reserve Bank of India as per the Information
Technology Rules of 2011” but there is little mechanism to check the
transfer of money through international routes.

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