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Tamil Nadu to ban online gaming, disregarding regulation as ineffective: Report

The state government has agreed to implement the ban, but a legal battle with the central government may be ahead

Tamil Nadu to ban online gaming, disregarding regulation as ineffective: Report

Outlook Start-Up Desk

POSTED ON April 10, 2023 11:57 AM

The head of the panel responsible for online gaming in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu has called for a total ban on the activity, dismissing regulation as an ineffective solution. Justice K Chandru, a retired judge of the Madras High Court, led the four-member committee that issued recommendations for the sector. The state government has agreed to implement a ban, and a legal battle with the central government may be ahead, the Economic Times reported. 

An ordinance to ban online gaming was approved by the state assembly after the report was submitted.

The Central government recently published new rules for online gaming that proposed a structure of multiple self-regulatory organisations (SROs) and barred any game that involves betting and wagering. Fantasy games such as Dream 11 and MPL, as well as games such as online poker and rummy, will be covered by these rules. However, Chandru argued that regulation was a fraudulent exercise because it would not prevent people from playing games.

Gaming firms are said to be concerned that they may face prosecution or investigation by state governments that follow local rules, despite the new central regulations, according to a report in the Economic Times. Meanwhile, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the minister of state for electronics and information technology, has urged gaming companies to speak with state officials or conduct roadshows with representatives from his ministry to clarify the new regulations.

Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Telangana are among the states that have attempted to ban online gaming through their own legislation. A government official from an unnamed state said that it appeared that the Central government had exceeded its jurisdiction since they are attempting to create laws on subjects that belong to individual states. However, the home minister of Karnataka, Araga Jnanendra, welcomed the new regulations and stated that the state would always support initiatives that served the public interest.

Justice Chandru's committee was set up by the Tamil Nadu government in June 2022 to examine the negative effects of online gambling. The panel submitted its report on June 27, 2022, suggesting that an ordinance be passed to ban online gaming. The recommendations were approved by the Tamil Nadu cabinet and an ordinance was issued by the Governor, RN Ravi, to prohibit online gambling. The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill, 2022 was approved by the state assembly in October 2022 and sent to the governor for his assent.

However, the Governor refused to give his assent to the bill on March 8, 2023, claiming that the Tamil Nadu government was not qualified to legislate on the matter. Justice Chandru stated that the Governor has three options when presented with a Bill, which are to reject it, return it, or refer it to the President. Chandru expects the Governor to send the bill to the President, citing that the issue falls under the concurrent list and not the state list. A legal battle could ensue between the state and central governments.

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