Tamil Nadu Governor Returns Online Gaming Bill

March 10, 2023 | Online Gaming

The bill was passed by the state assembly on October 19, 2022, after it was moved by law minister S Regupathy.

CHENNAI, India (March 9, 2023) — After dilly-dallying for more than four months, Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi has returned the ‘Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gaming and Regulation of Online Games Act, 2022’, saying the state legislature lacks legislative competence to pass such a bill.

The bill was passed by the state assembly on October 19, 2022, after it was moved by law minister S Regupathy. An ordinance promulgated by the governor to ban gambling and regulate online games on October 1 lapsed on November 27, 2022.

The new bill aims to empower the state government to set up an Online Gaming Authority to regulate such games and stipulates that all local operators get a certificate of registration from the authority for providing online services.

“The bill will now be examined by the legislature and will be sent back to the governor if necessary,” sources told TNIE.  Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai urged the state government to make public the explanation given by the governor for sending back the bill.

“The state should make that document public. The bill is faulty and it was made by the state government for someone’s gain and this is a chance for the state to get the bill rectified. The governor will be forced to sign the bill as per the law if the state government sends it again to the governor.

If the governor signs the document, it will definitely be stayed by the HC or SC,” Annamalai told reporters in Coimbatore.  Interestingly, the governor’s decision comes months after he raised three questions last year based on a Madras High Court order that struck down an earlier law banning online gambling.

Players contest against the computer in online games

We governor had then said the bill fails to reflect the observations made by the HC. The governor had said that there is no differentiation made between the game of chance and the game of skills and the bill aims for a total ban. This goes against Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution. The governor also noted that the HC had said the ban can only be proportional to the impact and there can’t be a blanket ban.

The government had then clarified through a letter that the bill distinguishes between the game of chance and skill and only online gambling has been banned. The bill does not impose a total ban. Hence it is in consonance with the doctrine of proportionality.

The governor had also said the HC had said skill-based games are not covered under the ‘Betting and Gambling’ entry in the state list under schedule 7 of the Constitution, and this was not taken into consideration when drafting the bill. The state had then clarified that ‘Betting and Gambling’ does not cover online gambling, as unlike offline games where the players know who their opponents are, in online games, the person is playing against a computer code written by the game developer.

This leads to higher chances of cheating and swindling and the bill aims to ban such online gambling. The government had also said the bill deals with matters involving betting and gambling, public order, public health and theatres and dramatic performances, which are matters under the state list.

SOURCE: Express News Service.

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