Difficult to block gaming sites, Centre tells HC

Difficult to block gaming sites, Centre tells HC

The Centre told the Delhi High Court on Thursday that blocking of online gaming sites, including those of card games, was "technologically infeasible" as many states have enacted laws which partially or fully allow such activities.

The submission on affidavit was made before a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) which said that it has to be determined first whether the games on the sites involved games of skill or chance in order to block them for propagating gambling activities.

The Delhi government told the court it can only take action if a gambling site was being hosted in the national capital or if there were instances of offline gambling.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in its affidavit, has said it has taken each and every step under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) to prohibit, forbid and bar any kind of transaction which was illegal and contrary to forex laws.

The stand of the two governments and RBI came in response to two PILs seeking an end to the operation of websites which allow people to gamble, bet and play games of chance, like poker, online.

After hearing arguments on behalf of the authorities and the petitioners, Avinash Mehrotra and Deepti Bhagat, the bench asked the Centre and Delhi government to treat the petitions as representations and to make a decision on banning the sites referred in the pleas after ascertaining whether they hosted games of skills or chance.

The court said the governments while arriving at their respective decisions would also keep in mind the aspects of money laundering, FEMA violations and taxation of the gaming proceeds.

With the direction, the bench disposed of both petitions.

The two petitioners had contended that gaming and gambling websites are encouraging people to spend their hard-earned money on games of chance, like poker and blackjack. It said success in these games was based solely on the turn of cards and no skill was involved.

The petitions had alleged as most of these websites are based outside India, it is leading to the flight of foreign exchange from the country in violation of FEMA. 

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