Kerala online lottery ban upheld by Supreme Court

Following an appeal by the All Kerala Online Lottery Dealers Association and the Sikkim government, the Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the Kerala government’s decision to prohibit sale of online lottery tickets and said state governments are within their legislative competence to regulate such activities.

Dismissing the appeal, Chief Justice H L Dattu said that a state government can “organise, conduct or promote” a lottery and it would be within its legislative power to enact laws and rules to prohibit online sales. The Court cited Indian classical texts, saying that they condemned gambling as a vice, and that lotteries were worse than other common forms of gambling as “the latter infests the whole community; it enters every dwelling; it reaches every class; it preys upon the hard earnings of the poor; it plunders the ignorant and the simple.”

The Sikkim government, which has a more relaxed attitude to gambling than many other states, claimed that the online play of Keralan residents was a significant source of income. However, the Court stated that Sikkim does not have any control over lottery terminals located outside its border and that a ban was in the public interest.

The Court also cited Kerala’s Lotteries Act 1998 which called for lottery drawings to be held once a week, allowing a ‘cooling off’ period, whereas the online lotteries offered “several draws within minutes.”