Chennai, Tamil Nadu (March 13, 2023) — Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi has returned a Bill passed by the state Assembly to ban online gambling games, The New Indian Express reported on Wednesday.

Ravi said that the proposed law – Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gaming and Regulation of Online Games Act, 2022 – lacked legislative competence.

The Bill proposes that those who participate in online gambling could be fined Rs 5,000, or be sentenced to jail for up to three months, or both. Those who advertise such games could be jailed for up to a year, while persons organising them could be imprisoned for three years.

Commenting on the governor’s decision to return the Bill, Tamil Nadu Law Minister S Regupathy said that Chief Minister MK Stalin will examine the reasons cited by Ravi, PTI reported.

Regupathy said that the governor is duty-bound to approve the Bill if the Assembly adopts it again. He added that a Madras High Court judgement passed in 2021 held that the state government was the competent authority to pass a law banning online gambling

In August 2021, the Madras High Court struck down an earlier law – the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act 2021 – which banned betting in cyberspace. The High Court had held that the Act violated the Constitution, but had allowed the state government to pass a law that would conform to constitutional principles.

Conflicts Between TN Governor, the State Government

In the past few months, there have been several points of conflict between the governor and the Tamil Nadu government.

Ravi, in a customary address to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly on January 10, had skipped references to Ambedkar, Dravidar Kazhagam founder Periyar, former Tamil Nadu Chief Ministers K Kamaraj and CN Annadurai, as well as the “Dravidian model” of governance while reading out the speech prepared by the state government.

After this, Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin urged the president to intervene and ask Ravi to ensure he follows the Cabinet’s advice without bias.

At an event in Raj Bhavan on January 4, the governor claimed that a “different kind of narrative has been created” in Tamil Nadu.

“Everything applicable for the whole of the country, Tamil Nadu will say no,” he had said. “It has become a habit. So many theses have been written  all false and poor fiction. This must be broken. Truth must prevail.”

He then said that Tamizhagam would be a more appropriate word for Tamil Nadu. The word “Nadu” means land but is also at times interpreted as country or nation-state. Tamizhagam means a region inhabited by the Tamils.

In February last year, he returned a Bill to the Assembly for reconsideration after it passed a proposal to exempt Tamil Nadu students from taking the National Entrance cum Eligibility Test, or NEET, for admission to undergraduate medical courses.

The Bill had proposed that admission of students to medical courses be carried out based on Class 12 examination results.