CHENNAI: Reviving its efforts to ban online rummy, the Tamil Nadu government on Friday formed a four-member committee headed by former judge of the Madras High Court, Justice K Chandru, to give recommendations for promulgating an ordinance to ban the game. The committee will submit its report within two weeks and the ordinance will serve as model legislation for other States, including Kerala and Karnataka, whose earlier laws were struck down by courts, said a government order issued on Friday.
The decision to form the panel was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister MK Stalin on Friday following a spate of suicides across the State by victims who lost money in the game. On Thursday, a woman in Chennai allegedly killed herself after her husband lost Rs 25,000 she had kept for their child’s school fee in online rummy.
The previous AIADMK government brought a law — Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act of 2021 — which banned online betting games like rummy and poker with stakes. However, private companies offering such games filed a case against the ban in the Madras High Court and got it quashed.
The court had said the government had failed to provide enough scientific evidence on the need for such legislation. While the State has appealed against the HC ruling in the Supreme Court, the case is yet to be taken up by the apex court. The government has now formed the committee to ensure that the ordinance promulgated based on its recommendations would stand legal scrutiny.
Govt to issue ordinance right after panel submits its report
The committee will study the game’s nature that drives people towards financial losses and suicides and also collect evidence to substantiate the negative effects of these games. This apart, it will also study the advertisements promoting the game on social media and ways to control them. Dr S Sankararaman, technical expert from IIT-Madras, Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar, SNEHA founder and psychiatrist, and senior police officer Vinit Dev Wankhede will be the other members of the committee.
Given the urgency of the situation, an ordinance will be promulgated immediately after the panel submits its report. Several digital lending applications that are unauthorised by financial regulators are available on Google Play Store. The apps offer short term loans at high interest rates. Experts say these apps are used for extracting money from gullible customers.
These apps are placed as compulsory view advertisements on rummy apps, other gambling apps or on gaming apps that require customers to use money. When a person loses money in gambling games, these ads lure them to websites from where these loan apps can be downloaded. These then makes the victim to take large amounts as loans. By the time victims realise they are caught in a trap, it would be too late.