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At a time when the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) is dominating the fantasy gaming platforms, the Andhra Pradesh government has delivered the online gaming industry a googly. Following through on its initial announcement earlier this month, the government has finally passed an ordinance legally banning all forms of real money online gaming in the state.
On September 3, the Andhra Pradesh government had announced a ban on all forms of real money online games like fantasy sports, rummy, and poker, claiming that these games were pushing the youth on a wrong path. The government had proposed stringent punishment for those charged with gambling, and even the gambling operators soliciting players from the state.
On September 25, the state government passed an ordinance to amend the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act 1974. It came into force with immediate effect. Andhra Pradesh has now become the second Indian state, after Telangana, in banning all forms of real money online gaming.
Renamed as the Andhra Pradesh Gaming (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, the government of YS Jaganmohan Reddy has prohibited the following:
1. collection or soliciting of bets
2. receipt or distribution of winning or prizes in money or otherwise in respect of any wager or bet
3. any act which is intended to aid, induce, solicit or facilitate wagering or betting or such collection, soliciting, receipt or distribution
4. any act of risking money or playing stakes or otherwise on the result of a game or an event including on a game of skill.
Under the new laws, those convicted of indulging in real money online gambling in the state would be awarded six months of imprisonment, which will increase to two years jail term for repeat offenders.
The Andhra Pradesh-Telangana belt has a high density of gamers and people who love to wage monetary bets on card games like rummy, poker, and similar activities. Fantasy cricket is of similar nature. According to an archaic India law, both rummy and fantasy sports have a “preponderance of skill.”
This Ordinance has come as bad news for IPL 2020 title sponsors, Dream11, and other gaming operators as fans will not be able to play fantasy games at the ongoing series from Andhra Pradesh now.
According to Dream11’s own declaration, fantasy fans in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, Telangana, Nagaland, and Sikkim will also not be able to participate in real-money contests on Dream11 and online gaming on other fantasy platforms.
“Due to recent changes to the Gaming Act in the State of Andhra Pradesh, users from Andhra Pradesh will not be able to join paid contests on Dream11. The laws in Assam, Odisha, Telangana, Nagaland, and Sikkim are unclear on games of skills may be played for a fee. Hence, residents of these states are also not permitted to play pay-to-play formats of any online games”, declares Dream11 on its website.
Even India’s leading online poker sites have updated their websites to declare that players from Andhra Pradesh will not be allowed to compete on their portals.
“In this regard, the Assam Game and Betting Act, 1970 and Orissa (Prevention of) Gambling Act, 1955 and Telangana State Gaming (Amendment), and the Amendment to the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act, 1974 and the Ordinance and High Court Judgment in Gujarat, 2017 prohibits games with money stakes and also does not create an exception for games of skill. Therefore, currently, residents of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, Telangana, and Gujarat are not permitted to play on our site.” – PokerBaazi.
“It may be noted that the state legislations of Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Telangana, Assam, and Odisha do not permit the playing of ‘games of skill’ for money (“Excluded States”).
If any User residing in the Excluded States is found to be participating in any Real Money Games on the Platform or registers by giving false information, the User will be solely liable in such instance, and the Company reserves the right to terminate the User Account without any further notice and refund and/or block any unused funds credited into such User’s account. In the event of such breach, the Company also reserves the right to forfeit any winnings or Bonus Amounts as the case may be. The Company or the Platform operated by the Company will not be liable for Users’ breach of applicable State laws.” – Spartan Poker.
“The game of poker is globally recognised to be a game which requires a high level of intellect and mental prowess. Statisticians, economists and chess grandmasters globally have accepted that the game of poker involves substantial degree of skill. In India, gaming legislations in all states with the exception of Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Nagaland, Assam, Odisha and Telangana exempt “games of skill or “games of mere skill” from the definition of gambling.” – Adda52.
While real money online gaming is still considered legal in most states in India, Andhra Pradesh’s ban is still a significant setback for the industry.