A representative photo. | Photo credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Online betting and online gambling have been banned in Tamil Nadu. At the same time, other online games will be regulated.
The ban covers rummy and poker, according to an order issued by Governor RN Ravi on October 1, a copy of which was made available to this newspaper on Friday.
Click here to read the gazette notice
A senior government official said the effective date of the law would be notified shortly.
Approved at a Cabinet meeting on September 26 under the chairmanship of Chief Minister MK Stalin, the law was formulated following the recommendation made by a committee, headed by former Madras High Court judge K. Chandru. This development, in turn, follows the decision of the Madras High Court in August 2021 to strike down the Tamil Nadu Gambling and Police Laws (Amendment) Act, which was enacted when the AIADMK was in power.
The court had held that a blanket ban on games of skill was contrary to Article 19(1)(g) (right to engage in any profession or to engage in any profession, trade or business) of the Constitution. The previous law had also banned games such as rummy and poker on cyberspace with stakes.
For the purpose of online gambling regulation, the order proposed the creation of the Online Gaming Authority, to be headed by a retired officer who held the rank of secretary general. The body will be composed of four members, including a retired police officer with at least the rank of Inspector General; experts in information technology and online games; and an eminent psychologist.
The Online Gaming Authority will issue registration certificates to local online gaming providers; identify online games of chance to recommend them to the government for prohibition; and overseeing the operation of online game providers. An appeal body was also provided for in the order. It will be made up of three members, including a former High Court judge.
The official said there was no estimate of the number of online game providers in the state.
The law has defined the terms ‘online gambling’, ‘online gambling’ and ‘online gambling’. Those who engage in online gambling or online gambling will be liable to imprisonment for up to three months or a fine of ₹5,000 or both. If anyone advertises or causes to be advertised in any media about the prohibited games, the person concerned will be liable to imprisonment for one year or a fine of ₹5 lakh or both. For the supplier, the order provides for a jail term of up to three years or a fine of ₹10 lakh or both.
The order also established restrictions for non-local online gambling providers. As for those who do not comply with the restrictions, the Authority, following due process, may recommend to the state government to request the central government to exercise power, under the Act 2000 on information technology, to block the access of people in the state. services provided by non-local providers.
Asked which court will hand down the sentence, the official said it was either an ordinary court or a designated court, details of which will be released later. Regarding the timing of issuance of registration certificates by the proposed Authority, the official said that this will be mentioned in the rules that will be developed.
Online games affected students’ concentration. It was an overwhelming response given by teachers during an investigation by the state government as part of the exercise to formulate the law banning online gambling, according to the order.
Over 74% of two lakh teachers, under the jurisdiction of the Department of School Education, said students’ concentration was affected, and 67% of respondents said they noticed eye defects in students. More than 74% of teachers observed a “decrease in the intelligence quotient, writing skills and creativity” of students, according to the survey. More than 76% of respondents said there was a “significant decrease” in their self-esteem. Over 77% were of the opinion that an increase in anger among students was spotted while over 72% noticed indiscipline among students. These details were mentioned in the order. The survey was conducted in addition to the fact that the government asked for people’s opinions via email. Subsequently, the government received 10,735 responses, and 10,708 of them were in favor of a total ban on online gambling.