Social activist Deepti Bhagat approached Delhi High Court with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) to ban online and offshore gambling/betting websites. A similar petition was filed by Avinash Mehrotra which has now been tagged with the recent PIL. It has been kept for hearing on 28 November. India has become a major online betting and gambling hub. Teen Patti and other card games available on Play Store have been downloaded by over 50 million users.
Bhagat’s petition was heard by a division bench of the Delhi High Court, comprising of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C. Hari Shankar, who issued notices to the Delhi government and Union Finance Ministry. The bench also ordered that the matter be tagged with the Avinash Mehrotra PIL and be listed for hearing on 28th November. Last week, the bench had apparently declined to entertain the same plea by the petitioner as she had been unable to explain what a poker game was.
Leading which Bhagat moved a fresh plea and explained how the card game is played. The petition states that "as the player has no control over the kind of cards being dealt with him or her, poker was a game of chance and not skill and, therefore, playing it for high stakes or profit amounts to gambling and is illegal. The petitioner has also sought cancellation of the licenses, if any, issued to any company for playing poker or similar card games." Moreover, the petitioner through the PIL also sought a ban on advertising of such games. The petition has claimed that thousands of families face monetary crises due to the gambling activities of a family member.
In May 2019, social activist Avinash Mehrotra had moved the Delhi High Court contending that several online gaming and betting websites are encouraging the country’s working population to part with their hard-earned money on games of chance such as poker, teen Patti, sports betting, election betting, etc. He sought blocking of offshore online betting websites such as Betrally, Bet365, and Betway as well as domestic Indian poker websites such as Adda52 and PokerStars.in as well as asked for a probe against the websites for tax evasion and money-laundering.
The court had declined to grant interim relief to Mehrotra and had asked the central government and RBI to file their responses. The court had also kept an intervention petition filed by the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) on hold and kept the matter pending until the next hearing on 28th November 2019.