Telangana eyes making gaming decrees permanent

The government of Telangana is not taking any chances when it comes to its laws against gambling.

Several months ago, authorities in the Indian state issued two ordinances amending the Telangana’s Gaming Act of 1974 to ban online gambling. The first, called the Telangana State Gaming (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, added new definition of “cyber space” in the gaming legislation to make betting and gambling through the internet illegal. This means that playing online matka, sports betting, poker and rummy in the state will now incur criminal penalties.

After receiving backlash from online rummy operators, the state government pushed for a second amendment, this time adding the words “online gaming with stakes” to the definition of gaming as well as the general description of the term “gaming,” while also deleting Section 15 of the state’s Gaming Act of 1974, which exempts ‘games of skill’ from the ambit of gambling, and replacing it with a new provision authorizing the Telangana 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 thing is, the state’s gaming decrees have a short life span.

Ordinances are temporary laws in India. The Constitution allows a state governor to issue an ordinance based on the advice of the state government, but the ordinance “shall cease to operate at the expiration of six weeks from the reassembly of the Legislature.”

This is why the Telangana government is reportedly eyeing a bill that will convert the two ordinances into an act. According to a Times of India report, the state cabinet will meet this week to approve three major bills, and also to “clear bills related to prohibition of online rummy game,” among other things.

The bills are likely to be introduced in the legislative assembly session that is set to begin on Oct. 27, according to the news outlet.

Online rummy sites Ace2Three, Rummycircle and Junglee Rummy have pending petitions before the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana High Court, which stated that the unconstitutional ordinance violates the sites’ “fundamental right to carry out trade and commerce.”

At the moment, Telangana-based companies like Ace2Three have been allowed by the high court to accept customers based outside of the state, while other online rummy operators like Chennai-based Krida Sports have been forced to seek refuge in other states.