State Passes India’s Landmark Bill Allowing Games Of Skill

A state in India has passed a bill that could pave the way for regulated online rummy and poker websites in the country.

The legislative assembly of Nagaland recently passed the Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion of Online Games of Skill Bill 2015, becoming the first legislation in the country that addresses the issue of games of skill such as poker, rummy and fantasy sports, local media reported.

Introduced in July 2015, the bill states that “games of skill can be played for real money and a profit or gain can be derived from it” as long as a license is obtained from the state government, according to a Swarajya Magazine report.

Included in its list of skill games are chess, poker rummy, Sudoku, nap, virtual golf, quizzes, and virtual sport fantasy league games.

Nagaland, located in the northeastern part of India, is the first state to take a solid step towards regulating online rummy and poker websites that are already operating in the country. Currently, Indian states, except Assam and Odisha, exempt games of skill from criminal liability. In addition, majority of online skill-based websites that offer real-money games operate based on “judicial precedents and statistical evidence.” To date, there hasn’t been a conclusive verdict or a legislative provision that clarifies the legality of real-money, skill-based websites.

The Nagaland Bill, however, not only allows licensed websites to offer services to any location outside of Nagaland where games of skill are not forbidden, but also permits potential license holders to set up their base outside the state boundaries. It is up to the other state governments to report to the licensing authority of Nagaland if there are violations of the law.

The legislation was not without its opponents. Civil rights group Against Corruption and Unabated Taxation (ACAUT) Nagaland had already questioned if the bill’s passing was done “at the behest of a single legislator.”

“The precedence given and the urgency with which the gaming bill was passed gives rise to the picture that the entire NLA [Nagaland Legislative Assembly] was hijacked by a Parliamentary Secretary representing the interest of an outside gaming company,” the group said, according to The Morung Express.


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