Kerala Culture Minister V.N. Vasavan said in the Assembly on Tuesday that the government will discourage celebrities from becoming brand ambassadors of online rummy and betting portals.
The CPI legislator was responding to a demand by K.B. Ganesh Kumar, MLA, who raised concerns about the increasing number of suicides of those who suffered financial losses while using such applications. The actor-politician blamed influential personalities from the entertainment industry as well as prominent sports persons for the increasing incidences of youngsters falling victims to such platforms.
“While famous personalities such as Shah Rukh Khan and Virat Kohli have lent their star power for boosting the business of such emerging apps, we have been witnessing some artistes such Vijay Yesudas and Rimi Tomy follow suit without realising the detrimental effects such platforms have had on families,” said Mr. Ganesh Kumar.
Mr. Vasavan highlighted the government’s inability to rein in such practices through legal means. “We can only seek their support towards our efforts to sensitise the public against such applications. Change can happen only when a cultural revolution takes place in the minds of such influential personalities,” he said.
Nearly a year after the Kerala High Court set aside a state government notification prohibiting online rummy games, the Kerala government is contemplating an amendment to the gambling act to impose a total ban on online rummy that is blamed for several suicides.
Neighboring Tamil Nadu has recently constituted a committee which recommended a ban on online rummy. It was reported that the Tamil Nadu cabinet was unanimous on banning online rummy. Currently, the decisions by Karnataka and Madras High Courts quashing online gaming ban laws are under challenge before the Supreme Court.