Doom or Boom Fate of online gaming in India hangs in balance as SC mulls legality

Written by Subhash Narayan | Updated: Sep 17 2014, 01:22am hrs
GamingA favourable judgment could bring lifeline to the online gaming industry.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will continue to hear arguments in the case pertaining to the legality of online games, particularly cards games likes rummy and poker involving stakes of money. Sources said a final decision on the fate of this segment of the multi-billion dollar Indian online gaming industry will have to wait for some more time.

The crucial question before the apex court is whether these games involve an element of skill and can hence be played for stakes or not. The court is also expected to bring clarity over the ways companies offering these gaming services can make profits as profiteering from transactions or from a winners booty is not considered legal. Noted lawyer and Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued on behalf of the online gaming companies on Tuesday.

A favourable judgment could come as a lifeline to the online gaming industry that has grown in leaps and bounds over last few years providing opportunity to people to win money by placing bets. This would mean that along with offline lotteries and horse racing, but a wide variety of online games would become available to Indian consumers. Industry experts say Indians love to gamble and the market here is pegged at upwards of Rs 3 lakh crore annually with companies in the business enjoying very high profit margin.

A negative ruling could spell doom for rummy and poker companies requiring them to shut down until there is a legislative change. It is also possible that the court disallows commission in rummy games (while allowing a fixed entry fee/commission); which could make it difficult for companies and clubs to structure sustainable revenue models.