Rummy, the popular card game, may soon be played at licensed cafés across Maharashtra.
The state government is mulling the setting up of ‘card court cafés’ to conduct tournaments and is waiting for a legal opinion from the law and judiciary department.
Police officers, however, are worried that such a move may lead to more gambling — a point that Milind Limaye, a Pune-based entrepreneur, has contested for more than seven years, as he seeks permission from the government to set up cafes to conduct rummy competitions in nine major cities. Limaye has said the card game is one of skill and that a regulation may actually reduce gambling.
His application was turned down by the Thane and Pune commissionerates and the state government, after which Limaye moved the Bombay high court.
In December 2013, HC had asked the government to issue licenses to conduct rummy competitions, following which, last month the home department called a meeting and referred the proposal to the law and judiciary department.
But most representatives from the nine commissionerates opposed the proposal.
Prabhat Kumar, the special inspector general (law and order), reportedly said in the meeting permission for such cafes may not go down well with citizens.
Most other officials agreed – one said the cafés will malign the image of the government; another said the permission sought was nothing but an attempt to start gambling centres in the name of competition.
Some others said there was no harm in allowing such cafés, as it will help the government generate revenue. Limaye, too, claims the cafés will help the government reduce gambling habits.
“People addicted to gambling sit for days at social clubs across the state. The Card Court Cafés, which will be designed for a tournament, will have a limit on the number of hours a person can spend,” Limaye said, adding they will also put an end to the hundreds of illegal dens running in the name of social club card rooms, without paying taxes. He said the cafés will bring the government revenue of around Rs10 lakh a month per café.
Limaye is now ready to move court for the fourth time. “The HC has asked the state government to frame rules and permit the cafés within a stipulated time. I will wait till November 15 for government’s permission, and move court against the state for contempt of court.”
Additional chief secretary KP Bakshi has asked the law and judiciary department to study the proposal considering all elements, including the social repercussions and benefit to society.