Tamil Nadu: 25-year-old man loses ₹5 lakh playing online rummy, ends life

A four-member committee led by a retired Tamil Nadu High Court judge has suggested that the DMK government ban games like online rummy.

ByUmar Sharieef

Published Aug 04, 2022 | 8:28 PMUpdatedAug 04, 2022 | 8:29 PM

25-year-old man died by suicide after losing ₹5lakh playing online rummy.

As the Dravida Munnetra Kazagam (DMK) government in Tamil Nadu continues to sit on the recommendations made by a committee to ban online gambling apps, a 25-year-old youth is the latest to join the list of people — which is now 19 names long — who have allegedly died by suicide this year in the state after losing money gambling online.

The suicide note of the victim. (Supplied)

According to the police,  V Suresh Kumar allegedly hanged himself in his house on Tuesday, 3 August, after losing lakhs of rupees on a gambling app.

The Rasipuram police told South First that the deceased took the drastic step after losing ₹5 lakh playing online rummy.

The money was saved by his father to send him abroad for work.

“He also borrowed money from friends to play the game. On failing to repay the loans, Suresh hanged himself, leaving a suicide note in which he said, ‘bye bye rummy. Miss you’ [sic],” the officer added.

The deceased in his suicide note mentioned the amount he had to repay to his friends and asked his parents to settle his dues.

The suicide note read, “I wanted to quit playing the game, but I couldn’t. When I had money in hand, all I thought about was playing the game. I miss you, Mom and Dad.”

Committee suggested ban

A four-member committee led by the retired Madras High Court judge K Chandru submitted a report to Chief Minister MK Stalin on 27 June, recommending the promulgating of an ordinance to ban online rummy, as players get addicted to the game and end up dying by suicide.

More than a month later, the state government is yet to take a call on banning online rummy.

The AIADMK government last year passed the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act, which banned online rummy.

However, the Madras High Court struck down the amendments, calling the law unconstitutional.

The court said the government failed to provide enough scientific evidence to uphold the amendments, and quashed it after hearing a petition filed against the government by private companies.

Following repeated cases of suicides due to online rummy, Chief Minister MK Stalin formed the aforementioned committee to make recommendations.

“The family members of the players are unaware that the players bet money online. Some youngsters use their parents’ credit cards to play online rummy by linking the card details, and in many cases, parents do not know about their cards being used by children to gamble online,” one of the committee members told South First on condition of anonymity.

“It’s wrong to say that online games enhance skills. We have to abandon the existing law and bring in a new one,” a report by the committee said.

19 suicides in 8 months

The year started with the suicide of 36-year-old banker Manikandan, who lost around ₹20 lakh on online rummy.

A preliminary inquiry by the police revealed that he had allegedly killed his wife, 35, and two children, aged 11 and one, after a dispute with her for losing money gambling online.

In another incident, a 29-year-old woman killed herself near Manali in Chennai after losing ₹10 lakh gambling online.

Five days after her death, a 39-year-old woman killed herself after her husband went online and gambled away the ₹25,000 she had saved for their son’s school fees.

The Coimbatore City Police’s armed reserve police jawan R Kalimuthu, 29, lost ₹20 lakh playing rummy online.

He, too, took loans from his friend to gamble online.

Unable to repay the money to his friends, Kalimuthu shot himself with his service weapon while he was on duty in Coimbatore on 16 July.

Skill vs chance

An online rummy player told South First that one plays the game using 13 cards on the app. On winning, a player doubles his money.

To play the game, a user has to deposit a minimum of ₹100. The game is inaccessible to a player who doesn’t have sufficient balance in the e-wallet of the app.

All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) CEO Roland Landers told South First that many Indians enjoy playing online rummy.

Even court judgments have held rummy to be a game of skill, and it is considered protected under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.

He added that rummy was a game of skill and not a game of chance.

However, in states like Assam, Telangana, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, online gambling apps are completely banned.

Political parties echo ban call

Almost all the Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu have echoed the call for banning online games that promote gambling.

Former chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami, who passed the 2021 law, has urged the Stalin regime to immediately ban games like online rummy.

BJP MLA Nainar Nagendran accused the Stalin-ordered panel of being an eyewash and told South First, “The government has all the powers to pass an ordinance in the Assembly. Instead, it formed a panel to sit on the issue. It shows the lack of seriousness in the government.”

He also said BJP MLAs would strongly demand a ban on games like online rummy.

Former Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) president Anbumani Ramadoss in a series of tweets questioned the delay by the Tamil Nadu government in issuing an ordinance even after the expert panel recommended banning online gambling.