10 Jul 2017

Telangana government amends gaming ordinance, bans betting or wagering on all games of skill

Government of Telangana

The Telangana government issued a fresh ordinance on Saturday to amend the Telangana State Gaming (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 issued by it last month. The new ordinance is meant to clarify certain provisions of the Telangana Gaming Act.

The objects and reasons of the Telangana Gaming (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 states that online rummy has become increasingly popular and due to the ease of access to online rummy the stability to family life and career of students has been affected. The objects further state that playing rummy has become a threat to public order.

The Ordinance adds the words ‘online gaming with stakes’ to the definition of gaming and also amends explanation to the definition of gaming. The new explanation now states that any act of risking money or otherwise on the result of an unknown event including on a game of skill falls within the definition of betting and wagering and will consequently be liable to prosecution.

The Ordinance has further deleted the existing Section 15 of the Telangana Gaming Act which exempts ‘games of skill’ from the ambit of gambling. The existing Section 15 has been replaced with a new provision that empowers the state government to issue an order within two years from the date of issue of the Ordinance to remove difficulties in implementation of the Gaming Act.

The decision to amend the Gaming Ordinance has come weeks after various writ petitions were filed by online rummy companies in the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana High Court. The rummy companies had argued that the first ordinance which deemed rummy to be a game of chance was in contravention to the 1967 Supreme Court judgment which held rummy to be a game of skill.

The online rummy companies will now have to either withdraw or amend their writ petitions in light of the new amendments issued by the Telangana government as the challenge to the ordinance on the ground of deeming rummy to be a game of chance no longer exists.

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