Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi raised the issue of gambling law in the Rajya Sabha. He argued that there is a distinction between the games of chance and games of skill. He said that the government has no jurisdiction to ban games of skill. MP Singhvi raised the question of “government policy on online gaming and betting.”
According to the records, for a petitioner company, Singhvi once appeared before the Karnataka High Court to challenge the constitutional validity of the Karnataka Police Act 2021. The state government in Karnataka has put a ban on online gambling and betting under the Karnataka Police Act, 2021.
Singhvi said that games of chance and games of skill are different, and hence the government should regulate games of chance, but they have no jurisdiction to ban all games of skill. Earlier in the All India Gaming Federation Vs. State of Karnataka case, Singhvi appeared for GamesKraft Technologies Private Limited. This is the parent company of RummyCulture, which is an online gaming app.
After a month of that case, Singhvi asked the following things in Rajya Sabha:
- What are the reasons for not differentiating between games of skill and games of chance?
- What are the details of advisory on advertisements on fantasy sports?
- What is the policy position of the Ministry on the categories games of skill and games of chance?
However, many experts and ministers are not so happy with these questions raised by Singhvi. Former Secretary-General of Lok Sabha, PDT Achary said that what MP Singhvi is doing is certainly improper as it may not come under the “conflict of interests.”
PDT Achary said that there is no rule that allows a member to ask questions or ask supplementary questions (on the basis of conflict of interest) in the House. He said that if a member has a direct interest in the questions related to matter in Parliament, then it can be a question of impropriety.
He reminded the rules of conduct and etiquette of Rajya Sabha, which says that the private financial interests of members and their immediate family members should not come in conflict with the public interest. In case any such conflict occurs, then members should solve it in a way so that the public interest is not affected.
However, Singhvi denied such conflicts, and he said that he never appeared for any gaming company that deals with fantasy sports except for rummy operators. He clarified that he has only appeared on the legal point of view of games of chance versus games of skill which was only for rummy operators. MP Singhvi also added that he is engaged by different solicitors as a senior counsel, and he never deals with clients and does not know about them.
MP Singhvi defended himself by saying that his question was just to clarify the subject of policies on games of skill and games of chance. Aside from Karnataka and Madras, many states are banning online gaming activities within their territories. Such bans have high stakes for the online gaming industry.