Online rummy and poker – a clear game of chance: DMK MP Senthil writes to IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw

Dr. DNV Senthil Kumar. S, MP from Dharmapuri constituency, Tamil Nadu has written to Minister for Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) Mr. Ashwini Vaishnaw seeking a ban on online games like poker and rummy. This is the second letter from the MP to MEITY. Earlier, he has written a similar letter addressed to Vaishnaw’s predecessor Ravi Shankar Prasad seeking a ban on online rummy.

In this letter to Vaishnaw. Dr. Senthil referred to recent headlines: “Man kills self after losing 20 lakh in online rummy,” “Youth died by suicide after losing 22 lakh in online rummy.” Politicians from Tamil Nadu have been claiming that gaming-related suicides are on the rise ever since the Madras High Court quashed the gaming ban law enacted by the AIDMK government in 2021. The DMK government has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court.

Dr. Senthil referred to WHO which classified gaming addiction as a mental health disorder. He said a youth from his constituency who was without a job after the Covid19 economic downturn have been addicted to online rummy, lost money, and finally committed suicide.

The MP also referred to a recent incident from Chennai where a man killed his family and committed suicide due to debts incurred for playing online rummy. Dr. Senthil termed online rummy and poker as a clear game of chance and sought a ban as many youths are risking their savings and killing themselves.

Politicians from across the party lines are raising voices against online games and the need for bringing in comprehensive legislation. Last month, BJP lawmaker Sushil Modi raised the issue in Rajya Sabha.  A total of 21 MPs associated with the issue raised by Sushil Modi. These include members from AITC, RJD, NCP, Congress, BJP, BJD, MDMK, IUML, and DMK.

Mr. Modi sought a uniform tax on online gaming and urged the government to make a comprehensive framework of regulation for online gaming. “I would like to tell the House that during pre-Covid, weekly time spent on mobile gaming was 2.5 hours and 11 per cent of total smartphone time was spent on gamingDuring lockdown, it increased from 2.5 hours to 4 hours and as on today, more than 43 crore people are using online gaming.” Mr. Modi said.

A few days back, PMK lawmaker A.Ramadoss claimed suicides on rise after the Madras High Court decision on the online gaming ban. Ramadoss cited an example of one victim, a software engineer from Kumarapalayam who committed himself after losing Rs 30 lakh in online rummy.

Another victim a resident of Tambaram Anandapuram committed suicide recently after losing money in online gambling. Meanwhile, the former CM and AIDMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami whose government enacted the now quashed gaming law has demanded the DMK government to enact a new law.