The Online Rummy Federation urges Kerala govt to form joint panel to regulate online gaming

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The Online Rummy Federation (TORF) has asked the Kerala government to regulate online gaming and formulate guidelines to clear up the confusion regarding online games. 

The industry body also urged the government to appoint a joint committee to study the issue in the wake of the Kerala High Court striking down a government order which banned online rummy in the State.

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“We request that other State governments considering regulating this sector to ensure only legitimate, legal operators who follow protocols are allowed to operate and a clear distinction drawn from those who try and operate above the law. We reiterate the recommendation to set up a joint committee to explore the possibility of setting up stringent regulations to regulate the gaming sector as a whole and the skill gaming sector in particular,” Sameer Barde CEO, TORF said in a statement.

Offering their support to the state government, Barde shared that TORF will be keen to collaborate and support Kerala Government in developing a comprehensive regulation that will address all the issues of the State, citizens, and the sector.

“Online rummy continues to be enjoyed as a form of entertainment by a number of Indians across the country. Over the decades several Supreme Court judgments have held rummy to be a game of skill and protected under Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution,” he said.

With states deciding their own laws to govern online gaming, there is much ambiguity in the interpretation of the law. Many of the skill gaming sites operate with models derived from countries where online skill gaming is legal.

As with all new technology innovations, regulations are not clearly defined, resulting in varying interpretations and enforcement. This ambiguity has resulted in some states banning online skill gaming sites, while in other states they are operating legally.

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In light of this situation, The Online Rummy Federation (TORF) was set up by the online rummy game operators to create a level playing field and standardize regulations for the entire online rummy skill gaming sector. However, being a voluntary organization can only do so much to bring in order and uniformity so TORF has repeatedly requested that regulations be bought in.

Similar concerns were raised earlier by Priyank Kharge, former Karnataka Minister for IT, Tourism & Social Welfare, who took to Twitter after Karnataka’s legislative assembly passed the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill 2021, which aims to ban online gaming for stakes with maximum imprisonment of three years and a penalty up to Rs 1 lakh.

“Govt needs to be more specific & identify games that encourage betting instead of a blanket ban for all online games. Govt should form a committee With industry stakeholders & come out with a law that curbs online betting instead of a bill that won’t stand the test of law,” he shared. 

The Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill, 2021 has not been thought out by the Govt. If it intends to ban gambling/betting it should distinguish between a game of skill and a game of chance, which is not reflected in the bill. 
1/n— Priyank Kharge / ಪ್ರಿಯಾಂಕ್ ಖರ್ಗೆ (@PriyankKharge) September 21, 2021

With the absence of a central regulatory framework to regulate the online gaming market, the ensuing chaos, arbitrariness of judgments, and the state’s knee-jerk reactions have put a strain on this otherwise booming sector, making it imperative to spread awareness about the online gaming sector and its myriad segments.