Exclusive The Telangana government has brought into force the Telangana State Gaming (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 (Ordinance No. 4 of 2017). The Ordinance received the assent of Governor ESL Narasimhan on 17th June, 2017 and is currently in force in the state of Telangana.
The Ordinance has added a new the term ‘cyber space’ within the meaning of common gaming house, making betting and gambling through the internet and other digital means illegal. Further, the Ordinance has enhanced penalties (both fine and imprisonment term) on gaming operators as well as players.
The Ordinance has further given powers to any police officer above the rank of sub-inspector to seize all investments and monies used for gaming and freeze bank accounts used for the purpose of gaming.
The Ordinance has also inserted three explanations to Section 15 of the Telangana Gaming Act which exempts ‘games of skill’ from the ambit of gambling. The explanations state that a game has to be totally based on the skill and ability of the person to be classified as game of skill.
The second explanation to the game of skill exemption states that any game which partly depends on skill and partly on luck or chance cannot be termed as a game of skill.
The third explanation to the ordinance expressly states that rummy is not a skill game as it is partly based on skill and partly based on luck or chance.
The Ordinance has wide-ranging implications on the online skill games industry as the future of rummy companies’ hangs in balance. Online rummy operators are sure to challenge this Ordinance in the High Court as it has tried to overrule an express Supreme Court judgment which states that the game of rummy is not merely a game of chance and involves a substantial degree of skill.
Note: The fully text of the Ordinance can be accessed here.