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In what will be a massive blow for gaming in Telangana, the state’s government is likely to convert the two gaming ordinances (introduced in June 2017) into an Act to completely ban online gaming including betting and wagering on games of skill. The state cabinet is likely to introduce the Bill to that effect in the legislative assembly session this week.
Soon after the formation of Telangana, the Chief Minister ordered police to crack down on clubs that encouraged gambling. But then, the local police and the government started receiving complaints that people were indulging in online gambling which resulted in financial loss. Hence, the ordinances were passed.
A recent report in The Times of India indicates that the Telangana cabinet will hold a meeting tomorrow (October 23) to approve three Bills, which includes the one prohibiting online rummy.
Notably, the Telangana cabinet had passed an ordinance banning gaming in a ‘cyber space’ in June and clarified that rummy is a game of chance. Further the government through an amended ordinance in July banned all kinds of betting or wagering on all games of skill, whether played online or offline.
As per Article 213 of the Indian Constitution, the governor of a state has the power to issue an ordinance (based on the advice of the state government) in exceptional circumstances and when the state legislature is not in session. But the ordinance needs to be converted into an Act passed by the legislature within six weeks of the next sitting of the assembly and if failed, the ordinance lapses.
In June itself, online rummy companies namely Head Infotech Pvt. Ltd. (Ace2Three), Play Games24x7 Pvt. Ltd. (Rummycircle) and Junglee Games Pvt. Ltd. (Junglee Rummy) had written petition in the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana High Court (HC) challenging the constitutional validity of the ordinance. They submitted that banning rummy goes against the Supreme Court verdict that recognized rummy as a game of skill and termed it legal in August 2015. They are arguing that it impinges on their right to free trade and commerce guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution.
The HC had earlier allowed Telangana-based rummy companies like Ace2Three, to continue accepting players from outside the state even though they operate out of Hyderabad in Telangana. The matter is still pending in the HC and is slated to come up for hearing on October 30.
Another thing to be noted here is that the current petitions will be of no use if the bill is passed by the Telangana cabinet before the HC makes its final decision. The operators will then be forced to either amend the petitions or file fresh ones to challenge the new Act.
Content Courtesy: Glaws.in