Kerala High Court directs govt to take a call on bringing online gambling under Gaming Act

High Court

The Kerala High Court on Monday directed the state government to take an appropriate decision on the aspect of inclusion of online gambling and betting within the purview of the Kerala Gaming Act 1960 within a period of two weeks.

The Gaming Act bans gambling and betting. However, it does not have provisions covering activities done virtually via electronic devices.

The court issued the directive while considering a Public Interest Litigation filed by film director Pauly Vadakkan seeking action against web portals promoting online rummy.

The government informed a division bench comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly that the State Police Chief has submitted a proposal to bring online betting under the Kerala Gaming Act, legal website Live Law reported. The government is considering the same, the pleader told the court.

"Play Games 24*7 Private Ltd" and "Mobile Premier League(MPL)", two companies running online betting portals, were made respondents in the petition.

These platforms that are even endorsed by celebrities attract their audience with false promise, easily making a fool of unsuspecting people. Primary targets will be middle to low income people who are enticed to make easy money. People fall prey to these fraud platforms only to loose what is left of their life's savings. There have been reports of such scams from across the state", the petition stated.

The Court had earlier issued notice to cricketer Virat Kohli, actors Tamanna Bhatia and Aju Varghese, who were brand ambassadors for online rummy portals.

The petitioner highlighted the recent suicide of a Kerala youth after he lost money in online betting.

Madras and Gujarat high courts have passed directions against online gambling, and states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Odisha have brought laws against it.

The Tamil Nadu government brought an Ordinance recently after the Madras High Court asked the state government to bring a law to curb online betting in November 2020. 

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