Rummy apps return to Telugu States despite ban

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In the year 2017, Telangana has enacted a strict anti-gambling law to ban all forms of real money games in the Stat including Rummy and Poker. Following the footsteps of Telangana, neighbouring state Andhra Pradesh enacted a similar law in 2020.

Both the States have now included cyber-space specifically within the scope of a common gaming house. Instruments of gaming now specifically cover any articles that can be used for virtual or intangible including electronic modes of ‘gaming’. Earlier, the scope was limited to physical items such as cards, dice, gaming tables, etc. With the enactment of these laws, real money gaming companies disappeared from these States.

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But over the past couple of months, rummy apps with shady business structuring have started targeting people in the Telugu States with YouTube and social media ads.

Established operators like RummyCircle, RummyCulture, Poker operator Adda52, fantasy operator Dream11 do not permit players from Telangana and Andhra to access the paid features. However, the new apps do not have any location restrictions and in fact, actively target users through social media advertisements to sign up. All the applications are identical in user interface and use Cashfree as a payment gateway provider.

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When the money is deposited, users can play any of the three types of rummy games: point rummy, pool rummy, and deals. The apps at the withdrawal stage seek KYC information and display a warning that withdrawing money to bank accounts in Telangana, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh is not permitted. This system of seeking KYC details at the withdrawal stage also locks out users from transferring the money to the bank accounts located in the States of Andhra, Telangana, Odisha, etc., where gaming for stakes is prohibited.

Providing access to applications to play rummy is a cognizable and non-bailable offense for which these operators can be charged in these States. On Saturday (February 5), regional news channel Sakshi reported that a 70 crore deal was struck between a real-money gaming company head and a local politician to allow rummy apps in Telangana. Currently, petitions are pending with the High Court of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh challenging the constitutional validity of the ban laws enacted by the respective States.