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Tamil Nadu Passes Ordinance To Ban Online ‘Gambling’ Games Despite HC Striking Down Previous Ban

Ordinance comes even as the previous such ban by Tamil Nadu was struck down by Madras HC and has reached the Supreme Court

The Tamil Nadu cabinet approved an ordinance banning online ‘gambling’ games, which will soon be approved by Governor T.N. Ravi, a government press release said. It added that to advise the government on this matter, a committee headed by Justice K. Chandru had submitted its report, which was placed before the cabinet on the same day. This article by Moneycontrol states that the report recommended “prohibition of these games as well as advertisements encouraging people to play them”.

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The government press release also stated that a survey was conducted by the department of education regarding the impact of online games and comments were received from the general public via emails and consultation meetings with stakeholders. Then an “emergency law” was prepared and presented before the cabinet on 29th August 2022. After going through some refinement, the law was finally approved by the cabinet on 26th September 2022, said the press release.

Background: This is not the first attempt by the Tamil Nadu government to ban online gaming. The earlier AIADMK government had banned all forms of online gaming for stakes through the Tamil Nadu Gaming & Police Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021, Medianama reported. The Statement of Objectives and Reasons of the act said that real money games like Rummy and Poker were “addictive in nature“. It also said that innocent people were being cheated and incidents of suicide have been reported due to these games. However, the ban was soon challenged in the Madras High Court by online gaming companies who argued that it was excessive and violated their right to carry out business, held under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. The Madras High Court struck down the ban in August 2021, ruling that the state can at best regulate these applications and not prohibit them. This ruling was challenged by the Tamil Nadu government in the Supreme Court in December 2021. The Supreme Court is yet to pass judgment in this case.

Why it matters?

Several real money gaming applications have come to prominence in India. Dream 11, a fantasy sports platform, is one of the “official sponsors” for the Indian Premier League and is valued at $8 billion. A recent policy change from Google will now allow Rummy and Daily Fantasy Sports applications on its Play Store for a 1-year pilot basis. Although this move does not make gaming legal in India, it does provide gaming apps with exposure to several more Android users in India, which account for 95% of all smartphone users in the country.

How the Centre plans to regulate online games

A panel set up by the Central government to draft policies on online gaming and gambling has recommended the creation of a separate regulatory body and framework to govern the sector, Medianama reported. It also suggested that the government should have the power to block unregistered online gaming platforms.

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I cover privacy, surveillance and tech policy. In my reporting, I try my best to present the most relevant facts, and sometimes add in a pinch of my thoughts.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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