Games offered by websites involving money can't be legal: Court

Games offered by websites involving money can't be legal: Court
The online games involving money cannot be held to be legal and websites hosting them cannot be given any protection under the Constitution, while banks too can deny them their normal services, a Delhi court has said.

The court observed that online games involving betting with the websites hosting it and charging a part of the winning prize from participants is "illegal" in the states which prohibit gambling and banks can refuse to provide its normal services to such websites.

"The 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 a firm, 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 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," it said.


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