Andhra Pradesh cabinet has approved a proposal to amend Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act, 1974, to ban online games such as rummy and poker that involve money transactions.

According to the government, these online games are leading to “unhealthy tendencies” in the society forcing the State Cabinet to take a decision to ban them as they are seen to be pushing the youth on to a wrong path.

The proposed amendment to the AP Gaming Act provides for six months imprisonment for those who indulge in playing them and one year jail term for the organisers. For a second violation of the ban, the imprisonment will be for two years along with fine for repeat offenders.

After the cabinet meet chaired by Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, Information Minister Perni Venkataramaiah (Nani), said: “Online gambling has become a vice that was damaging the youth by misleading them. So we have decided to ban all such online gaming to protect the youth.“

Raj Kundra, CEO of Viaan Industries Limited, said, “I think it’s a fantastic decision. I have been saying from the beginning it is important to have a regulated market. I am waiting to see when other States take the same stand with all real money games from Poker to Fantasy sports allowing just the officially licensed and regulated players.”

Maruthi Shankar, Managing Director of Seven Seas Entertainment, said, “We welcome the move to ban these games which involve money transactions and lead youth into wrong path. Apart from loosing money, they also face societal issues.”

According to industry reports, the online real money gaming (RMG) industry, is estimated at ₹2,200 crore and growing at about 30 per cent annually. A KPMG report predicts that online gaming is expected to generate revenues of ₹11,900 crore by 2023.

Some States have already banned such games, while others are considering regulating them.

With inputs from G Naga Sridhar and Chitra Narayanan