Madras court wades into the online rummy debate

The Madras High Court has voiced concern that unemployed youth are becoming gambling addicts under the influence of online rummy games, and it has advised the Tamil Nadu government to take legislative measures to regulate it.

This statement follows similar concerns voiced last month by the founder-leader of Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) political party, who called for a crackdown on such online gambling: “Everyday, when we open our phones, gambling website advertisements enticing us with INR10,000 as credit to start playing rummy, promising lakhs in return, can be seen. Loneliness due to the lockdown and the incentive of earning lakhs of rupees make young people susceptible to gambling and makes them into addicts.”

In addition to rummy, the Madras High Court has called for the establishment of a comprehensive regulatory framework for online sports betting as well.

The controversy over online rummy in Tamil Nadu and other parts of India is by no means a new one, as various social groups have been calling for bans since at least 2016. The courts in India, however, have been unclear as yet whether online rummy should be considered legal as a skill-based game, or whether state governments can or should impose bans.