The Indian state government of Kerala has joined Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu in specifically banning online rummy or other games played for stakes.
The moves against online gambling appear to be particularly strong in southern India, where some suicides and other social ills are being blamed on the proliferation of these games.
The state government’s action was taken after being prodded by the Kerala High Court on February 10, 2021, to make a decision on whether or not online rummy falls under the terms of the Kerala Gaming Act of 1960, and is thus excluded from the general ban on gambling.
At this point, the state’s online rummy ban is being decided through an executive decision, but it is not formally written into law.
Indian gaming laws have become increasingly opaque in recent months and years. As a general rule, while betting on games of chance are judged to be illegal, betting on games of skill are supposed to be permitted. In the past rummy has been found to be a game of skill.
It would appear, therefore, that today in Kerala it is legal to play rummy for stakes at physical clubs around the state, but it is now judged to be illegal to play the same game online, where it is presumably seen as a game of chance.
Online gaming industry advocates may challenge some of the recent state government policies in the courts, and many have been appealing for the national government to clarify regulations.