Madras HC repeals recent TN law banning online gambling for money – Chennai judges declared the law invalid because it violated a previous constitutional ruling. Online gaming companies had challenged the bill to ban some of the country’s favorite games, as confirmed by a recent study on the profile of the average desi gamer.
Classic real money games remain legal in Tamil Nadu
The media reported in early August that the Madras High Court had declared Tamil Nadu’s anti-gambling law invalid. The state government previously banned popular online betting games such as poker and rummy.
The judges agreed with the petitioners – a group of online gaming companies – that the law was “excessive and disproportionate” and that lawmakers acted “ultra vires”, beyond their powers. The national standard for certain games has been established since the 1968 Supreme Court ruling that rummy is a game of skill and not of chance.
Tamil Nadu is among the states with a strong presence in online gaming, with players turning to top casino sites like 10Cric.com for a safe and legal gambling experience. The petition to the HC in Chennai argued that a legitimate business in any other part of the Union could not be banned as illegal in a state.
The legal basis for the decision
The Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act was passed earlier in February 2021. Its validity has been challenged by game providers, based on the landmark Supreme Court ruling and the legal distinction between games of skill and games of chance.
The TN government has argued that many teens and young adults under the age of 30 risk their winnings by betting on some of their favorite online games. But since rummy is easily found in many land clubs, it could not be banned for online play.
Chennai at the forefront of online gaming
Recent research on typical player profiles in India and the extent of the nation’s gaming market reveals that Tamil Nadu has a player base second to almost no other state.
While many other player demographics are the same across the country, geographically the user bases are distributed differently. Most of the players come from the South – i.e. Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad – followed by the country’s other Tier 1 urban areas, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata.
The largest online gaming communities depend on local development but also on cultural specificities. Unsurprisingly, online traffic to gambling sites increases around holidays like Diwali or Holi, when families and friends engage in casual gambling, more out of tradition than anything else.
Many are introduced to games like rummy and poker by relatives and friends, while regional favorites also include teens Patti and Andar Bahar. The youngest age groups turn out to be the most active – between the ages of 20 and 40 – and most gamble online for stress relief and social interaction.
Over the past couple of years, there has been substantial growth in non-fantasy real money games, especially card games and casual mobile games. Other historical games are also gaining ground, with better support for the local language and personalized desi content.
The total Indian online gaming market is estimated at around 400 million players and has a total value of around Rs 9,000 crore (according to KPMG data for 2020). About a third of this comes from non-fantasy real money games, both classic game genres and other online skill games.
Young metropolitan gamers still make up the bulk of the player base, but rural communities are gradually catching up, thanks to affordable smartphones and better internet coverage.