The Government of Nagaland has enacted the Nagaland Prohibition of Gaming and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill Act, 2016. The said Act provides for regulation and promotion of “games of skill” through the issuance of licenses. This Act provides that the license holders under the same can operate from any State in India where gambling is allowed.
Sikkim has framed legislation regulating the virtual or online gaming activities within its territory. Except for the Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act, 2008 and Nagaland Prohibition of Gaming and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill Act, 2016, none of the other Central or State gambling legislation specifically mentions online gambling which puts online gambling involving ‘game of skill’ in a grey area. The gambling laws in India continue to be confusing and unclear. The judiciary time again through various decided case laws have tried to clear the air and provide clarity on the subject. However, the recent technological changes have thrown open the sector and have allowed the masses to participate in activities which lie in the border line of gambling laws in India. These activities are yet to be scrutinized and tested through the courts in India. It is advisable that before someone ventures into any gambling activity in India, he/she may take a sound legal advice in respect of the same so as to avoid any unnecessary legal implications. The Gambling Act, by virtue of Section 12, excludes ‘game of skill’ from the purview of law. Supreme Court in the case of Dr. R. K. Lakshmanan v. State of Tamil Nadu [AIR 1996 SC 1153] defined ‘game of skill’ as “one in which success depends principally upon the superior knowledge, training, attention, experience and adroitness of the player”. The Court pointed out that a game of chance is one in which the element of chance predominates over the element of skill and similarly a game of skill is one in which the element of skill predominates over the element of chance. It is the dominant element – “skill” or “chance” that determines the true character of the game. In State of Andhra Pradesh v K. Satyanarayana and Ors [AIR 1968 SC 825], the Court held that: Regardless of the mounting popularity and the revenue generated by gambling and betting in India, the Indian laws and the Courts in India have been averse to any game of chance and probability, except in States of Goa and Sikkim. Since the advent of British rule, many Indian states have enforced the Gambling Act prohibiting all forms of gambling and betting in their respective states. Goa and Sikkim are the only exceptions which have allowed gambling and betting in their state, subject to regulation of their respective state Governments. List II of Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution, endows the state Governments with the power to legislate on matters concerning gambling and betting. India continues to enforce the pre-independent gambling legislations enacted by the British rulers, but it is interesting to note that UK has changed its gambling laws by allowing almost all forms of gambling in UK in light of the changing societal norms of their country.
The Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act, 2008 was amended on August 19, 2015 restricting the offering of “online games and sports games” under the licenses issued under the said Act to the physical premises of the game parlours within the geographical boundaries of the State of Sikkim through intranet gaming terminals. Initially, the wording of the Sikkim Online Gaming (Regulation) Act, 2008 envisaged that the license shall allow the licensee to offer its games across India without restricting it to the territory of Sikkim. The Supreme Court in Dr. R. K. Lakshmanan (supra) held that horse racing is a game of mere skill within the meaning envisaged under the Madras City Police Act, 1888 and Tamil Nadu Gaming Act, 1930. The Court explained through various instances how horse racing can be considered a game of skill as the betting in horse races are based on evaluative skills and various other factors like skill and management of the jockey. Articles tailored to your interests and optional alerts about important changes