Indian State of Andhra Pradesh Bans Online Gambling, Threatens Jail Time
Posted on: September 3, 2020, 03:10h.
Last updated on: September 3, 2020, 03:38h.
The Andhra Pradesh government announced Thursday that it had banned online gambling games, including poker and rummy, with punishments including possible jail time for organizers and players.
According to Information Minister Perni Venkataramaiah, the Andhra Pradesh cabinet approved amendments to the state’s Gaming Act of 1974 in order to ban online gambling games.
Andhra Pradesh Cracks Down to ‘Protect Youth’
Under the new regulations, organizers of online gambling games could receive up to one year in jail. Those punishments only grow if offenders persist in running the now-illegal games.
If the organizers are caught for the second time, they will be punished with two years of imprisonment and [a fine],” Venkataramaiah said, via TimesNowNews.com. “Those who play online gambling games will be punished with six months imprisonment.”
The cabinet met under Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy and reached its decision in order to “protect the youth,” according to Venkataramaiah.
The Indian online gambling industry has experienced more than its fair share of ups and downs in recent years. Online poker and rummy sites have flourished, with global poker brands like PokerStars seeing the country as one of the largest potential growth markets remaining in the world.
That growth has only accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. TimesNowNews.com cited reports that showed the Indian online gaming industry enjoying 21 percent growth during the lockdown, with sites setting new records for traffic and revenue during 2020.
Indian Courts Reject Ban, For Now
Supporters of online gambling in India have won some recent victories. Last year, the Delhi High Court rejected a ban on online wagering, saying they would allow the activity to continue and allow lawmakers to determine the legality of individual games.
But setbacks elsewhere in the country have spoiled some of those victories. Last month, a Chennai-based petitioner asked the Madras High Court to arrest Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli and Bollywood actress Tamannah Bhatia for promoting online gambling.
The petition claimed that the celebrities were being used to brainwash young people into joining online gambling sites, suggesting that internet wagering had led to an increase in youth suicides.
Indian authorities have also launched a number of raids against illegal live gambling operations across the country. In July, police arrested 23 individuals on gambling and other charges at Green Park Resort. Last October, Delhi police arrested 58 suspects in a similar raid on a gambling den in a Ghitorni village hotel basement.
Organizers of these illegal games typically invite players through private WhatsApp groups to prevent word from spreading to the police or other officials.
Over 49.3 million people live in Andhra Pradesh, a state on the southeastern coast of India. While most forms of gambling remain illegal in the majority of India, Goa and Sikkim both authorize limited forms of legal wagering.