Andhra Pradesh passes Gaming Amendment Bill to ban online games in the state over fraud concerns

Anushka Mansharamani

The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly has passed various Amendments on 1st December 2020. The main one being the AP Gaming (Amendment) Bill 2020, which was passed by a voice vote in the assembly banning online gaming in the state.

The bill was passed after the recent incident that took place where youngsters committed suicide due to the burden of heavy debts by online gaming.

The reasoning given for the amendment was explained by Home Minister Mekatoti Sucharita, who stated that online gaming can attract criminal behaviour and could potentially increase fraud cases in the state.

Mekatoti Sucharita further stated that the online gaming services provided are not necessarily authentic and there is a lack of regulatory measures to check the legal legitimacy of the sites thereby making it easier for privacy and security issues to arise and the online websites to defraud the customers.

The offence of online gaming under the Amendment Bill passed has been made cognisable and non – bailable. The punishment for an offence is a fine of Rs 5,000 and imprisonment for up to one year.

Any succeeding offence could see a fine of Rs 10,000 and imprisonment for up to two years.

The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly further passed the Andhra Pradesh Municipal Laws (Second Amendment) Bill 2020, through a voice vote where a recommendation was made by the Municipal Administration Minister to convert to property tax imposition from the annual rental value system to the capital value-based system as the new system could see additional revenue of Rs 120 crore on property tax.

The Andhra Pradesh Fish Feed Bill, the Andhra Pradesh Seed Amendment Bill, and the Andhra Pradesh Fisheries Bill, 2020 were also passed through a voice vote in the Assembly and provisions were being made to set up a regulatory body to ensure the quality of fish feed and seed through the bills to ensure no farmer acquires losses.