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Tamil Nadu Ordinance Banning Online Gaming Lapses, Governor RN Ravi Comes Under Fire For Delay in Approval of Act

Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi Approves Ordinance Banning All Forms of Online Games
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  • Namita Ghosh November 29, 2022
  • 3 Minutes Read

Tamil Nadu’s tryst with banning online gaming seems to be getting increasingly convoluted as the days go by. While the absence of implementation of any concrete action against real money online gaming has been a point of contention for the opposition to hassle the ruling party, the state Governor RN Ravi has now come under fire for the delay in approving the Act banning online gaming already passed by the state Legislative Assembly.

Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi
Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi

 

At midnight on Sunday, November 27, the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Ordinance, 2022, passed by the Governor, RN Ravi, expired, sending waves of furor in the political machinery of the state. The ruling government and political parties in opposition reacted sharply to this, coming out in sharp criticism against Governor RN Ravi for failing to approve the related Bill, i.e. Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill, 2022.

In his official statement to the media, state Law Minister S Regupathy said that the Ordinance expired due to delays in assent to the Bill. He said, “We expected that the Governor would give his assent by Sunday evening after the state on Friday submitted its reply to the three clarifications he sought regarding the Bill. But it did not come.” Asked why the Governor is delaying his assent to the Bill, Regupathy said, “There is no need for him to delay giving assent to the Bill. We don’t know why he is delaying it.”

S Regupathy
S Regupathy

 

The Governor had sent the state government a list of queries, asking for clarification on specific provisions of the Act. Regupathy said the government submitted its response within a day. However, there was no response from the Governor following this.

Regupathy defended the government’s move to ban online gambling, stating that the decision was taken as 95% of the state residents favored a ban on online rummy and poker. He further added that the WHO has termed online gaming a disorder. “This is what Chief Minister MK Stalin did while bringing out the ordinance.”

Does this mean that online gaming operators can resume operations in the state? According to Regupathy, the Tamil Nadu government will implement the law if it eventually gets the assent from the Governor. “Otherwise, there are several laws already in place, and we will take action [against online gambling platforms] under them,” he added.

 

Political Reactions

Last week, PMK President Anbumani Ramadoss demanded that the Governor grant assent to the Bill immediately, pointing out that if the Governor fails to approve the Bill on time and the Ordinance lapses, this will spur online gambling in the state. He underlined – “More than 32 people have committed suicide due to online gambling in the last 15 months. To prevent such tragedy, ban on online gambling is a must.”

Anbumani Ramadoss
Anbumani Ramadoss

 

MK leader and MP Kanimozhi reacted – “I don’t know why they are so eager to protect online rummy.”

Several other political factions, including the CPM, MDMK, and VCK, have also reportedly voiced criticism towards the lapse of the Ordinance.

 

Why the Lapse?

According to Article 213 (2), (a) of the Indian Constitution, ordinances cease to operate after six weeks once it has reassembled. The fourth session of the Tamil Nadu state assembly began on October 17, which means that the Ordinance was on a timer and set to expire on November 27.

On September 27, the Tamil Nadu cabinet approved the state’s new Ordinance to ban online gaming. On October 7, Governor RN Ravi approved the Ordinance. Though the government issued a gazette notification on the Ordinance’s passing, the state government did not notify the date for the Ordinance.

On October 20, the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Act, 2022, was tabled before the state assembly, which passed it. The related legislation, i.e., the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill, 2022, was sent to the Governor for his final approval.

On November 16, the Madras High Court directed All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), PlayGames 24X7 Private Limited, and Head Digital Works Private Limited to withdraw their constitutional petitions seeking a stay on the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Ordinance, 2022.

Once the Governor approves it, the Bill will become an Act, effectively banning all forms of online gaming in the state.

 

Doubts Raised by the Governor

Governor RN Ravi had raised the following doubts on the Tamil Nadu government’s latest legislation seeking to ban all forms of online gaming in the state:

> The Madras High Court, in August 2021, quashed the first online gaming bill passed by the state government, calling it unconstitutional.

> The Bill does not differentiate between a game of chance and a game of skill.

> The Madras High Court, in its ruling, emphasized that a blanket ban without distinction between the games of chance and the games of skill is in contravention of Article 19 (1)(G) of the Constitution.

 

State’s Response to the Governor’s Query

The state’s response to the Governor’s query was the following:

> The Bill distinguishes between a game of chance and a game of skill and seeks to ban only online gambling and not impose a total ban.

> The proposed Act is within the ambit of the Constitution and has been framed considering the entries in List 2 of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.

> The state government’s power in making gambling laws can be traced to Entry 34 List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution on betting and gambling: public order, public health, theatres, and dramatic performances.

 

The fact that the Ordinance has lapsed and the Governor is yet to ratify the Bill banning online games in the state makes for a very contentious environment for real-money online gamers and operators in the state. While real-money online gaming is not technically prohibited, many online gaming platforms have preemptively stopped taking players from the state, and others have continued their operations as usual.

 

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

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