India’s Supreme Court fails to provide clarity on rummy, but doesn’t say no

India’s Supreme Court didn’t provide the final legal clarity many had been hoping for when it comes to ruling whether gambling on games of skill is legal, but didn’t express a negative opinion either, meaning the activity should be able to go ahead.

“Although, contrary to expectations, the Supreme Court order has not brought conclusive clarity on the legality of playing skill games for stakes, there have not been any negative remarks in the order and therefore online rummy companies should be able to continue operations without roadblocks,” said Jay Sayta, a lawyer and operator of the Gambling Laws in India website.

The case seeking clarity on whether playing games of skill for money is legal dates back to 2012 with the prosecution of several gaming organizations in the State of Tamil Nadu. At the time, the judge classified rummy as a game of skill and not a game of chance. The Madras High Court subsequently rejected this decision and said that the clubs could no longer organize and take profits on rummy games or other games that could be played with bets.

Lawyers of the involved clubs have appealed based on the decision of the Indian Supreme Court which had classified rummy as a game of skill in 1968.

The Supreme Court has now issued two orders implying that the remarks of the division bench of the Madras High Court that playing rummy for stakes amounts to the offence of gambling have no precedential value and would not apply to either online or offline rummy.

In its order, the Supreme Court clearly mentions that the writ petitions before the Madras High Court are withdrawn and therefore observations contained in the order do not survive, Sayta wrote.

The  order therefore strengthens the proposition that online and offline rummy  for stakes or profit is not illegal.