Kerala Govt Can Change Gaming Act To Ban Online Rummy

Thiruvananthapuram: Months after Kerala Supreme Court set aside a state government notice banning online rummy games, there is an effort to table an amendment to impose a total ban on such gambling that blames suffered from several suicides.

Although the state had banned online rummy last year, the Supreme Court lifted the ban after a plea from four gambling companies a few months later. The government is now trying to reintroduce a ban in the context of suicides by some of those who lost lakhs in the rummy ‘gamble’.

This time the government of Kerala can introduce a loophole amendment so that playing rummy online for money is totally banned.

The Ministry of Interior has handed over the recommendation of the State Police Chief Anil Kanth to the Ministry of Law. The response was that the government can go ahead with the change. The step is to amend Section 3 of the Kerala Gaming Act 1960.

How the first ban got out of hand

In February 2021, the Kerala government banned online rummy in the state for the first time. In September 2021, after a plea from four gambling companies, the Supreme Court overturned the state’s ban, noting that rummy is a “game of skill.” The High Court had also pointed out that the ban alleging that the game is played on an online platform is unconstitutional and discriminatory.

According to the Kerala Gaming Act Section 14, no restrictions can be imposed if, in a game, the element of skill is more predominant than the element of chance. Rummy is included in the list of games mentioned in section (A) as games that cannot be restricted because it is a ‘game of skill’.

The Home Office has recommended limiting the play of online rummy for money by making changes to Section 14(A). It would be changed to be brought under ‘the game of chance’ because the game is played with money at stake. Violation is punishable by one year imprisonment and/or Rs 10,000 fine.

Gambling legislation falls under the competence of the state government.

Online rummy game

Representative image: kunal rathod/Shutterstock

A suicide score

Police attribute more than 20 suicides in Kerala to loss of money in online rummy

The game of online rummy for money became popular in Kerala during the COVID-19 lockdown. According to state police, more than 20 suicides in Kerala are attributed to loss of money playing rummy online.

The state governments of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka had also previously banned online rummy. Nevertheless, the High Courts in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka had quashed the bans.

As the suicide rate increased due to the loss of money from online gambling and gaming, the government of Tamil Nadu is also advocating to ban online rummy again. The committee formed for this purpose submitted their report in that state last week.

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