Tamil Nadu Assembly Passes Bill Banning Online Gambling Again, Weeks After Governor Returned It

March 28, 2023 | Online Gambling

Governor had sent the bill back to govt for reconsideration earlier this month.

Chennai, India (March 23, 2023) — The state legislature has unanimously re-adopted The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Ordinance, 2022 which aims to ban online gambling. The bill adopted first on October 19, 2022 was returned to the government for reconsideration on March 8, by Governor R.N. Ravi, who sought additional information and suggested changes to the proposed law.

A new media platform for daily news, reports that while tabling the bill in the assembly Thursday, Chief Minister M.K. Stalin appealed to his fellow legislators to pass it unanimously. “This is a bill passed not just with the mind, but also our hearts,” he said, referring to the spate of deaths by suicide in the state over the past three years of individuals who lost large sums of money to online gambling.

Many of the deceased had sought a ban on such games in their suicide notes, he said. Stalin also cited a report by the state education department which said that 64 per cent of teachers believe online gaming interferes with children’s studies.

Government received 10,785 emails from the public of which only 27 were against the ban on online gambling,” he told legislators.

ThePrint’ reported that the chief minister also said, “We might have differences of opinion on issues of ideologies and politics but no one with a heart can have a difference of opinion over gambling that kills people.”

Earlier this month, state Law Minister S. Regupathy had informed the media that the governor, at the time of returning the bill for reconsideration, had cited a lack of “competence” of state governments to legislate on the matter.

Addressing the issue, CM Stalin pointed to Union I&B Minister Anurag Thakur’s reply in the Lok Sabha that betting and gambling were state subjects. “Betting and Gambling come under Entry 34 of List-II in Seventh Schedule of Constitution of India, in respect of which States have the power to legislate,” the minister had said earlier this month in a written reply to a question by DMK MP S.R. Parthiban.

ThePrint reached the governor’s office for comment but calls to the Raj Bhavan went unanswered.

‘Tricks to extract money from players’

In February 2021, the previous AIADMK government passed a bill to ban online gambling called Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021. However, the Madras High court quashed the bill by terming it unconstitutional in response to petitions challenging the validity of the legislation in December of that year.

After it came into power, the Stalin-led DMK government on 27 June last year constituted a committee headed by retired Madras HC judge K. Chandru to submit a detailed report on online gaming with monetary stakes. The panel in a 71-page report it submitted to the CM recommended a complete ban on online games with monetary stakes.

We are of the view that online games may not involve skill, but mostly tricks adopted to extract money from the players,” Justice Chandru (Retd) told ThePrint earlier this month.

Based on the committee’s recommendation, a draft bill was drawn up and presented for cabinet approval. The governor gave his assent to the Ordinance on October 1 2022. The bill was then tabled and passed on the floor of the House and sent to the governor for his assent on 26 October.

Terming the governor’s concerns and delay on his part to give his assent to the bill as totally unacceptable and unethical, Justice Chandru said, “Governor Ravi has also not explained as to where he got these doubts, especially delaying giving assent to the bill for over months and allowing the ordinance to lapse without being in force even for a day.”

Supporting the bill in the House Thursday, a number of MLAs too questioned the governor’s reasons for sending it back for consideration.

T. Velmurugan of the Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi and M.H. Jawahirullah of the Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, among others, even questioned the governor’s meeting with representatives of the E-Gaming Federation (EGF) on 5 December last year.

SOURCE: ThePrint.

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