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Andhra Pradesh Set to Follow Foot Steps of Telangana to Ban Online Rummy

July 23, 2019

The increase in the number of online gaming platforms offering pelothra of games including poker, rummy amongst others etc. is quickly gaining momentum in India. While the State of Nagaland has formally regulated online gaming and developed robust licensing structure, some of the Indian states are disapproving the online gaming especially with stakes in the respective states.

Telangana perhaps is one of the few states which implemented the policy of zero tolerance against risking of money vide the Telangana Gaming Amendment Act, 2017 which covers within its ambit any act of risking money on an uncertain event, including on a game of skill.

It has now been reported in the public domain that Andhra Pradesh is contemplating to ban online rummy in the state. As per the limited available information, State’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Youth Advancement, Avanthi Srinivas, as well as many others, are of the opinion that online Rummy is currently having a particularly negative impact on the state of mental health of the nation’s youth and as such in the process of drafting formal registration.

Judicial standpoint

The Apex Court clearly recognizes the
games with below elements are not “gambling[1] :

  1. where success depends on substantial degree of skill; and

  2. despite there being an element of chance there is requirement of application of skill.

The law in India states a game to be a game of skill, even with the element of chance if it depends upon[2] :

  • Superior knowledge;
  • Training;
  • Attention;
  • Experience;
  • Adroitness of the Player;
  • Element of Skill predominates over the element of chance

Various judicial forums have recognized rummy as game of skill as it requires certain amount of skill because the fall of the cards has to be memorized and the building up of Rummy requires considerable skill in holding and discarding cards.[3]

Conclusion
The law regarding the governance of games remains in the grey area. There persists the requirement to clearly establish the criteria distinguishing the game of skill from a game entirely dependent upon chance. Being governed under the regime of the State Legislation, there remains absence of a uniformed opinion ensuring legality of certain games over others. Mere involvement of stakes is an inefficient mechanism to tag a game as a gambling activity.

There emerges an increasing requirement of a Central effective legislation throwing light on the activities which may be specifically classified as gambling separating it from those involving preponderance of skill.

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[1]State of Bombay v. RMD Chamarbaugwala[ A.I.R., 1957 S.C. 699]

[2]Dr. K.R. Lakshmanan vs State Of Tamil Nadu & Anr [1996 AIR 1153]

[3] Dr. K.R. Lakshmanan vs State Of Tamil Nadu & Anr [1996 AIR 1153]; In State of Andhra Pradesh vs. K. Satyanarayana & Ors. (1968) 2 SCR 387

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