Online gamblers in the State of Andhra Pradesh have enjoyed playing online casino games, especially in the last few months, when they were in lockdown mode. Their freedom to play online casino games is now being blocked as the Andhra Pradesh government has decided to ban online gambling in the state.
This ban on online gambling does not come entirely as a surprise as the government has faced pressure for months from various groups to decide and ban all forms of online gambling. Earlier this month, rumors circulated that Chief Minister Y. S. Reddy would be finally deciding on online games.
Enforcement Will Be Difficult
State Information Minister Perni Venkataramaiah announced this change in the laws. The government is already making plans to amend the AP Gaming Act of 1974. The change will make online gambling a non-bailable crime and will see gamblers prosecuted under the law.
The state government is also aware of how difficult it will be to enforce an online gambling ban. This would require government authorities to interfere with access to the internet, and multiple rules will change and be made to enforce this. The entire process is complicated and not something the state government wants to deal with immediately.
As a result, the government will not be blocking access to online gambling apps or websites. However, players who get caught gambling online will be subject to some very strict penalties. According to Venkataramiah, the changes will see online gambling operators jailed for a year and two years for repeat violations. Players who are caught can be put in jail for six months. While the details of how people will be arrested for gambling in their own homes has not been revealed, it will surely restrain some people from venturing freely to online gambling sites.
The details of this new ban are an expansion of the old rules. India has laws against games of chance, which means all gambling activities involving games like rummy and poker are banned. Daily fantasy sports (DFS) have not been considered gambling since they are considered a game of skill.
However, the government is rethinking this position because popular games like ludo are now offering cash prizes. Hence, the government is thinking of clubbing all these games under the new laws about to be released.
Political Pressure Results In Online Gambling Ban
This online gambling ban in Andhra Pradesh was forced due to the political pressure from opposition parties. Dr. A. Ramadoss, the founder of Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), was one of the main campaigners who fought for the ban. His argument against online gambling was that it was ruining young people and forcing them into debt and poverty.
Ramadoss pointed out that Indians are bombarded by ads from gambling websites with promotions that offer free rupees for playing games like online rummy. With the lockdown affecting Indian hard, young people have become more susceptible to gambling addiction. He went on to say that gambling addiction is growing in India, and a number of these addicts are using the money they saved for their family or business for gambling activities. Some of these addicts have also taken the extreme step of committing suicide.
Online Rummy Main Target
While Dr. Ramadoss was the biggest supporter in pursuing an online gambling ban, he was not the first in Andhra Pradesh to push for a ban. In 2019, an online rummy ban was called for, but it didn’t get any traction. More recently, CPI state secretary K. Ramakrishna sent a letter to the chief minister early this month asking for an online ban rummy. One of the reasons why they went after online rummy is because this is one of the most popular online casino games in Andhra Pradesh.
Secretary Ramakrishna wrote a letter to the Chief Minister and mentioned a recent case concerning Gundra Ravi Teja. Teja was working as a chief cashier at the Punjab National Bank’s Nuziveedu branch. Due to his online rummy addiction, he allegedly transferred 1.56 crore rupees from different customers’ accounts to his own.
The Rummy Federation (TRF) responded to the multiple requests to ban the game, highlighting that the federation has robust self-regulation standards that protect players. This includes having no minors allowed policy and problem gambling identification and support. There are self-exclusion procedures in place, which include imposing daily and monthly deposit limits. There is even an option to place a complete self-induced ban.