After Governor sent it back, TN Cabinet decides to pass online gambling ban Bill once again

Cabinet decided to pass Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gaming and Regulation of Online Games Bill in the coming Assembly session.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published Mar 10, 2023 | 8:41 AMUpdated Mar 10, 2023 | 8:41 AM

After Governor sent it back, TN Cabinet decides to pass online gambling ban Bill once again

Battle lines are being drawn yet again between the Tamil Nadu government and Governor RN Ravi — this time over the Bill prohibiting online gambling which he returned earlier this week, saying, among other things, that the state Assembly was not competent to pass such legislation.

In the Cabinet meeting held on on Thursday, 9 March, a unanimous decision was taken to yet again pass the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gaming and Regulation of Online Games Bill, 2022 in the Assembly session scheduled to begin on 20 March.

On 8 March, after more than four months, Governor Ravi returned the bill that was passed unanimously by the Tamil Nadu Assembly on 19 October last year, citing a Madras High Court ruling that the Bill was “manifestly arbitrary” and ultra vires.

Related: All you need to know about the Tamil Nadu online gambling Bill 

Post-Cabinet briefing

Speaking to Media on the Cabinet decision, Law Minister S Regupathy said that the governor is duty-bound to give his assent when the Bill is adopted again in the Assembly

Pointing out that the government had clarified that the law was to ban online gambling and it has nothing to do with games of skill, Ragupathy said that sending back the Bill was unacceptable and the state Assembly had the competence to legislate the Bill.

Related: Why is Governor Ravi sitting on the online gambling bill?

Regupathy cited the Constitution’s State List Entries — 1 (Public order) 6 (Public health), 33 (Sports, entertainments and amusements) and (34 (Betting and gambling) — and said the Assembly was well within its rights to pass the Bill.

“Games of skill are held physically which rules out scope for irregularities or duping. However, online card games involving gambling are entirely different as it programmed. It facilitates the automatic manipulation of any card and hence it is important to ban online gambling. This has been made amply clear. Also, the distinction between online and offline games has been underscored,” he said.

Also Read: The dark side of online gaming: Why it’s not all fun & games

What Madras High Court said

Pointing out that the the Madras High Court had struck down the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act 2021, the earlier Act, for other deficiencies and not on the premise of competence of the legislature, Ragupathy said the court had made it clear that there was no bar on the state legislature introducing a fresh Bill to ban online gambling.

Regupathy said that when Ravi sought certain clarifications, they were given. However, the Governor still returned the Bill, stating that the legislature lacked the competence to enact a law on this matter.

Regupathy contended that the state legislature has the required competence and pointed out that Governor Ravi had himself given his concurrence for the ordinance to ban online gambling, and it was duly promulgated.

The Governor’s claim that the legislature does not have powers to pass the bill is unacceptable, Regupathy said.