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Legal & Regulatory

Telangana government may issue ordinance to ban online poker and rummy

The Telangana government could possibly promulgate an ordinance to ban online poker and rummy and classify it with other forms of gambling and betting as per local media reports.

Reports indicate that the Telangana Gaming Act, 1974 may be amended by way of an ordinance and a new definition of ‘cyber space’ would be inserted in the Gaming Act. Further the law may clarify that playing online matka, sports betting, poker and rummy would incur criminal penalties which could range from a fine of Rs. 5,000 for the first offence to an imprisonment and higher fine for a second offence.

Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao has spoken about closing down rummy operations in the past and this move may be aimed at implementing his public utterances.

In November 2016, the Telangana police had filed an FIR against online rummy website Ace2Three for allegedly cheating players and manipulating their software. The complaint was filed at the behest of former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Yennam Srinivas Reddy.

Currently, gaming is defined under the Telangana Gaming Act to mean playing a game for winnings or prizes in money or otherwise and includes playing a gaming of mutka or satta and lucky board and wagering or betting.

If this proposal is implemented, Telangana would be the first state in the country to expressly categorise rummy and poker within the ambit of gambling. At present however it is unclear whether the state government has taken a final decision on the matter or is just contemplating possible amendments to the law.

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Legal & Regulatory

Andhra HC rejects rummy clubs plea for police non-interference

The Andhra Pradesh and Telangana  High Court in an order dated 13th April, rejected the plea by four clubs from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, seeking non-interference from the police.

A single judge bench of the High Court comprising of Justice A Ramalingeswara Rao dismissed the petitions filed by MLAS’ Colony Residents Welfare and Cultural Association, Hyderabad, Advocates’ Recreation Club, Karimnagar, Navodaya Sports and Cultural Association and ABS Town Hall as there was no real evidence of any harassment by the police, but the clubs had merely filed the plea based on apprehension of unnecessary interference.

The police interestingly claimed that rummy is not a total game of skill and involves an element of chance, a stand at variance with Supreme Court and High Court judgments.

Justice Rao, agreed with the assertion of the police that whether games of skill or other games are being played at clubs can be ascertained only when the police is given the right to enter the premises of rummy clubs in accordance with the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act, 1974.

The judge in his order noted, “It  is  difficult  for  anyone  to  say  what  is  happening  inside  the premises.  When the fish is in water it is commonly said that it is difficult to prove whether fish is drinking water or not.  In such circumstances, the better option for the Courts is to apply the law only whenever the cause of action arises on the facts of a particular case in the light of the provisions of the Act, but not on mere apprehension, assertions and denials.” 

The judge also indicated his disagreement with a 2015 order of the same court as well as earlier precedents, where directions were issued to the police to not interfere in the game of rummy, irrespective of whether it was played for stakes or otherwise.