Just a few weeks after receiving legal notices from online rummy players, a police case has been filed against GOQii founder and nCore Games cofounder Vishal Gondal for his criticism of online gambling apps. The police complaint, which was filed in Faridabad police station on March 28, has accused Gondal of defaming the complainant and has ordered him to be present at the station premises on April 5, 2021.
Gondal has been a vocal critic on social media regarding real money gaming, and online games such as online rummy, card games, and other forms of online gambling that allows users to pool money and bet against other players.
“Rummy, Teen Patti, RMG Fantasy etc are not Skills games they cause serious financial loss, addiction & death. Gambling is a poison pill served to the society in garb of skill game…Stop this,” Gondal had said in a tweet on February 9, 2021.
Following his comments on Twitter, Gondal received eight legal notices from different people claiming that Gondal’s social media criticism of gaming apps, likening them to gambling, have hurt their sentiments, and defamed their reputation. Collectively, the notices claim damages of up to INR 70 Lakh from Gondal for his criticism of online rummy platforms, and real money gaming platforms.
The legal notices which had strikingly similar arguments also referred to an article published with Gondal’s byline on MediaNama. In the article, Gondal had raised several “ethical issues” posed by real-money gaming platforms including the issue of such platforms advertising “themselves as a source of income, rather than as a source of entertainment”.
In a response to the various legal notices last month, Gondal’s lawyer pointed out that there have been instances of 19 cases of suicide in the last few months after many users lost significant amounts of cash to online gambling portals. Hence, Gondal expressed his opinions and staunch opposition to online gambling portals based on these incidents, added Gondal’s lawyer in his response to the legal notices.
Responding to the police complaint filed in Faridabad, Gondal told Moneycontrol that his comments on social media weren’t aimed at any particular individual or entity, and denied any intention to defame anyone. He told the publication that the police complaint the mourning legal cases on him was an attempt to harass him.
“The very fact that such online real money games have already been banned in several states and yet no first information report nor action of any sort has been taken by the complainant till date in respect of same proves that the present complaint is malicious and vexatious complaint targeting our client deliberately,” Gondal added.
It is important to note that legal notices sent to Gondal by individual rummy players do not explicitly name the apps that they have been using to play the game. Currently, some of the most popular online rummy platforms are operated by brands including RummyCircle, Ace2Three, Junglee Games and Ace2Three. These brands also operate a self-regulatory body known as ‘The Online Rummy Federation’, which represents many of the companies that operate these platforms.
The legal tussle between alleged rummy players and Gondal comes at a time when several state governments have been cracking down on online gambling portals that require users to bet using real money.
States including Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Odisha have explicitly banned rummy and real money games in their jurisdictions — something that most rummy apps expressly mention in their terms and conditions. The decisions from these states came after several players involved in rummy and other similar real money games such as online fantasy sports games ended their lives after losing lakhs of rupees playing these games. Over the past year, the number of such deaths has been on the rise.