The Mumbai Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court (HC) has asked the state government to clarify if online poker comes under the purview of gambling or is it a game of skill. The court has sought clarification after public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by Munawwar Ahmed through advocate Ajay Deshpande, which sought a ban on platforms promoting online poker games. This PIL was filed against these companies that promote online games. People spend a lot on wagering and betting, which is essentially illegal as per the Bombay Prevention of Gambling (BPG) Act, 1887.
The petition further read that online games can become very addictive and thus eventually affect morality. In order to maintain public health, the companies that offer online poker games must be restrained. The next hearing in the PIL is scheduled for 8th February and the state will file its stand in the form of an affidavit in the matter. The division bench of justice Sandipkumar More and justice V K Jadhav was informed that companies hosted online poker games as games of skill. However, since the participants are playing with real money, there is betting and wagering involved, which falls under the Bombay Prevention of Gambling (BPG) Act, 1887.
As per Section 3 of the BPG Act, the bench was informed that wagering or betting except on dog races or horse races amounts to gambling. The petition further stated that the outcome of each round depends on the luck of each player and no skills are involved. Hence, the claims of the companies offering these games are false and are illegal according to Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.
While dealing with the right to practice any profession or undertake any trade or business states under subclause (g), the said Article does not confer the right to do anything considered illegal in the eyes of the law. The petition states that as online poker games fall under the purview of section 3 of the BPG Act, it is illegal, and the companies offering it should be restrained from hosting these games.
Manthra Koliyer is a writer at Gutshot Magazine. She has an affinity for seeing the world through people’s eyes. With a bubbly fun personality, you can always catch her chatting with anyone she comes across. Holding an English Literature degree from Wilson College, Mumbai, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism from Asian College of Journalism, this pop culture fanatic is ready to take on the world with a pen, paper, and microphone. She also actively works on her personal blog called namasteyconvict.blogspot.com, where for a moment she lets you into her drama-filled world.
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