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Andhra Pradesh has been cracking down on real-money online gaming since September, pronouncing real-money online gaming in the state a cognizable offense. In the latest development, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Wednesday sent a written representation to Union Minister for Communications, Electronics and Information Technology and Law & Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad, asking the latter to assist in directing all internet service providers (ISPs) to block 132 gambling websites currently accessible from Andhra Pradesh.
On September 3, the AP state cabinet had announced a ban on online games like rummy and poker, claiming that these real money games were pushing the youth on a wrong path. The new rules stated that those organizing such online games would get one-year imprisonment, and those playing will be jailed for six months. Repeat offenders would get two years of jail term.
Just three weeks later, on September 25, the state government passed an ordinance to enact these changes, amending the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act 1974 and renaming it as the Andhra Pradesh Gaming (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.
In the letter Reddy wrote to Prasad, dated October 27, he claimed online gaming and betting was fast catching up as a severe social evil. “It has led to youth getting involved in vices like gambling and betting from the comfort of their home through their mobile phones and computers,’’ Reddy said, adding gambling or betting in the usual form can be easily identified, but online gambling and betting remains elusive.
“The managing directors of all the online gaming companies and those involved in the running of the companies are liable for punishment under the Act,’’ Reddy further said, adding that the main features of the Act are that even those assisting the operation of online games are liable for punishment.
Reddy also attached a list of 132 websites and apps on which he wants the center to act. He said that online gaming, gambling, and betting websites had become a social evil as the youth indulged in them from the comforts of their homes through smartphones and computers.
The list includes top domestic poker sites like Spartan Poker, Adda52, and PokerStars India, as well as rummy sites like RummyBaazi, Adda52 Rummy, and Deccan Rummy.
Fantasy sports sites such as Mobile Premier league and Jeet11 and international portals like William Hill, Nazara, Bet365, Unibet, and Betfair, have also made it into the list.
Reddy underlined that the ISP`s would be assisting the gambling websites if they do not block websites in regions where such activities are deemed illegal.
“This is where the role of ISPs can be termed as the assisting factor as the websites are not blocked. Stopping illegal gaming and betting is not possible without the cooperation of ISPs. They should be instructed to block the websites to help the government curb the menace,” Reddy wrote.