Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi returns Online Gambling Prohibition Bill after 4 months

The bill was passed last year following a report from a committee set up because several people died by suicide after losing money on apps.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published Mar 09, 2023 | 2:53 AMUpdatedMar 09, 2023 | 2:54 AM

Guv Ravi

Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi on Wednesday, 8 March, returned the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gaming and Regulation of Online Games Act of 2022 — passed unanimously by the Tamil Nadu Assembly on 18 October last year, saying that the bill lacked legal competence.

Based on the recommendation given by the Justice Chandru committee, after reports of several people dying by suicide after betting and gambling in online games, the Tamil Nadu government passed a bill banning online games.

Following it, the Governor promulgated the ordinance to ban gambling and regulate online games on 1 October last year.

In November, Ravi — through a communication — sought clarifications on some sections of the bill from the state’s Legal Affairs Department.

The ordinance lapsed on 27 November, as the Governor didn’t give assent to the bill passed the previous month.

Related: 25-year-old TN man loses ₹5 lakh in online rummy, ends life

Ravi’s questions, state’s answers

In the communication from the Raj Bhavan in November last year, Ravi pointed to the Madras High Court order that struck down the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act of 2021, which was introduced by the Assembly in February.

In doing so, he raised three questions based on the observation of the court, which said that a “game of skill” included “the exercise of skill that can overpower that chance element involved in the activity such that the better skilled would prevail more often than not”.

Ravi noted:

  1. As long as rummy and poker games came under “games of skill”, why were they banned?
  2. Was the bill violating Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution?
  3. Why did the bill completely ban all online games rather than just gambling games?

In response, the state government clarified to the Raj Bhavan that “betting and gambling” fell under the seventh schedule of the Constitution, which was under the state list.

In addition, the person playing online games was controlled by “programmed coding” developed by software developers and coders and not by people to show their skill set. Hence, it led to cheating and swindling of money from online gamers.

Meanwhile, a batch of petitions was filed before the Madras High Court challenging the constitutional validity of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Ordinance of 2022.

All those cases were withdrawn after the Tamil Nadu government told the court that the Ordinance had not come into force as yet.

Related: DMK trends #GetOutRavi as TN Guv delays online gambling bill

Annamalai seeks white paper

Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai on Wednesday demanded that the state government release a white paper on the issue.

Speaking to reporters at Chennai airport. Annamalai said, “The people of the state should know what the Governor said while returning the bill, the reason why he had returned it, and whether the bill was in accordance with the constitution.”