Delhi District Court Judge Ina Malhotra ruled that online sports betting and games of skill that involve real-money bets are illegal under Indian gambling laws, thus are not entitled for the advantage of any protection under the constitution.
Gaussian Network Pvt. Ltd., an Indian internet online start-up founded by alumni of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, petitioned the Delhi court for their legal opinion on the online games.
The seven questions to the court included the legality of online poker, legality of online games played for rupees and the establishment of payment services or gateways for online games.
The young entrepreneurs, who wanted to start a venture to launch an online venture offering “games of skill”, were clearly disappointed.
The Delhi court stated: “Sports betting (for example internet betting in India) is an offense and bookies earning money from bets laid on games of skill cannot be granted protection under Article 19(1)(g) of the constitution (right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation).”
The internet start-up planned to launch one of the sites to offer the opportunity to play online poker in India. Besides poker, they proposed launching games they deemed “games of skill”, such as chess, billiards, rummy, poker and bridge. Before the launch, the company sought legal opinion on gambling to avoid violating the gambling laws of India.
The Delhi authority even stated that banks could refuse services to businesses offering any form of wagering or betting. The court ruled: “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.”
Even though a court in the United States ruled the opposite, the Indian court refused to accept the argument that poker is a game of skill, but instead classified poker under the area of gambling.