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Tamil Nadu Govt to Hold Cabinet Meeting on August 30 to Discuss Proposed Online Gaming Ordinance

Tamil Nadu Govt to Hold Cabinet Meeting on August 30 to Discuss Proposed Online Gaming Ordinance
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  • Namita Ghosh August 25, 2022
  • 2 Minutes Read

“Once bitten twice shy.” This age-old saying aptly sums up the Tamil Nadu government`s renewed attempt to check online gaming in the state, especially after the legal setback it received last year with the Madras High Court striking down its blanket ban on online gaming.

Pre-empting that a complete ban could backfire, the government is exploring stringent regulation of the sector this time, presumably taking a leaf out of China that restricts children from playing online games beyond three hours a week.

The government is not leaving much to chance to introduce foolproof legislation that can survive a legal challenge. They invited opinions from the public and the other stakeholders earlier this month and followed that up with a meeting with the top state officials last Thursday.

The new ordinance was discussed during the meeting. From the sound of it, the state will likely tow the lines of the Union Government’s inter-ministerial group recommendation by setting a daily limit on money and time players spend on online games.

As the next step, the government has scheduled a cabinet meeting on August 30 to discuss the proposed new law to regulate all forms of online gaming. The state cabinet will review the government’s proposal and the data collected in the meeting.

 

Complete Ban or Move Towards Regulation?

The MK Stalin-led state government in Tamil Nadu is under immense pressure to deliver on its earlier promise of banning online games. In June, the Justice K Chandru-led committee tasked to bring a new ordinance on online rummy recommended a complete ban on all games played for stakes.

Online gaming operators and industry bodies vehemently opposed the recommendation, claiming the committee did not give the industry stakeholders a fair hearing. Keeping in mind that its first legislation was quashed in the High Court, the government invited the public to share their opinion, in writing or in person, by August 12.

Sources in the state government revealed over 10,000 emails were received on the issue, with people from a broad group sharing their thoughts. This included parents, teachers, students, youth, psychologists, social activists, and online gaming operators. The initial data gathered revealed that 70% of online games were played for entertainment, and 10-15% involved money.

Among those who made submissions was Dr. Sandip H Shah, a leading psychiatrist based out of Godhra, Gujarat, who shared his research showing there’s no direct link between suicide and online gaming.

On August 18, Chief Minister MK Stalin held a meeting with other top state officials, including Law Minister S Regupathy, Chief Secretary V Irai Anbu, Home Secretary Phanindra Reddy, DGP Sylendra Babu, Greater Chennai Police Commissioner Shankar Jiwal, and others. The group discussed the proposed ordinance on online gaming regulation.

After the meeting, an official told the local media – “The State government wanted the ordinance enacted immediately, and the ordinance will be ready in a few days. There were discussions about the previous law enacted by the State government. The Chief Minister was so concerned that the newly enacted ordinance should not get defeated in the court. The legislation has been designed in such a way that it will be balanced to cater to the needs of the public and the industry.”

After the meeting, PMK founder S Ramadoss urged the State government to usher in the ordinance fast and end the menace of online gambling.

However, a complete ban may not be feasible, given that a total prohibition by way of an ordinance already stands rejected in the court. Earlier this week, Economic Times reported that the seven-member inter-ministerial task force set up by the Union government would finalize its draft regulations for online gaming over the next month before being released for public consultation. The panel is reportedly looking to regulate and not ban online gaming, recommending setting a limit on the money spent daily by players on online games based on “consumer and gamer protection.”

The Tamil Nadu government is working hard towards an ordinance to curb online gaming in the state. Recent meetings indicate that while the government may adopt a more conservative approach and not ban the games outright, restrictions on the age at which players will be allowed to play particular games and the time they can play them can likely be part of the new legislation.

This is a developing story. Keep following PokerGuru for all the latest updates.

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