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Delhi HC seeks Centre stand on PIL concerning online gaming

Delhi HC seeks Centre stand on PIL concerning online gaming
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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Wednesday sought the stand of the central government on a petition to regulate online gaming and stop the games that are not games of skills but chance.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Sachin Datta issued notice on the petition by lawyer Atul Batra who said in his plea that his concern was that online games of chance are promoted as games of skill and that online gambling is as bad as any substance addiction.

Noting that betting and gambling is a State subject, the court asked the petitioner to implead the Delhi government as a party to the petition.

Central government counsel said that various ministries are deliberating on the issue, which concerns a State subject, and the Centre, therefore, cannot legislate upon it without the consent of the State.

In the petition, the petitioner stated that if online gambling and betting are not regulated, it is likely to cause immense damage to the society at large as youngsters with impressionable minds can fall prey to such games, which will have an adverse effect on their personal and professional life.

The petitioner sought appropriate action against an entity offering an online cricket game involving money on its website and prima facie promoting a game of chance.

The petitioner said that under the Information and Technology Act, the Centre is empowered to issue appropriate instructions to ban the operation of illegal gambling online websites.

It is submitted that online betting/gambling is as bad as any substance addiction. Therefore, it is only just and in the interest of the public at large that orders, writ, directions as prayed herein are granted, the petition said.

The petition further said that the Ministry of Law and Justice formed a law commission to give its report on legal framing work/gambling and sports betting including in Cricket in India which submitted a report in July 2018 and recommended that the online gambling and betting should be properly regulated to ensure transparency in the market and protect the vulnerable population of the society.

The petitioner is not against the game of skill but has concerns regarding games that are of chance and are promoted as games of skill, the plea said.

If a Regulator is not appointed at the National Level then there is a possibility of different states taking a different view on the Game of Skill and also in a state like Delhi, different Police Station based on the jurisdiction can take a different view, based on their understanding of the game, it added.

The matter would be heard next on November 16.

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