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Tamil Nadu passes strict online gambling regulations

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On Monday, the Indian state of Tamil Nadu passed a measure to prohibit online gambling despite amendments to the state’s IT law last week.

The Prohibition of Online Gambling & Regulation of Online Games bill was cleared by Governor RN Ravi. The bill is the second measure sent to the governor and one of the numerous attempts to curb problem gambling.

The measure was championed by Chief Minister M K Stalin, who stated that his decision to push for the bill was due to the connection between online gambling and the loss of lives.

“These deaths are happening in front of our eyes. This government, which has the law in its hands, has the duty and responsibility to stop this,” he said.

To address this, the Tamil Nadu government set up a committee to advise the government while it devised a new online gambling ban. The panel was led by retired Madras High Court judge Justice K Chandru, who is in support of a blanket ban on all forms of gambling.

Chandru stated that merely issuing a regulatory framework could prove ineffective because people would still be able to gamble online. In order for the state to experience significant change, an outright ban on online gaming was recommended.

The Tamil Nadu government passed the Prohibition of Online Gambling & Regulation of Online Games Bill in October 2022. The legislation was passed after conducting several measures, including a public hearing and a survey by the School Education department, all of which were in support of banning online gambling.

Gov. Ravi did not sign the bill and returned it to the Assembly on March 6, 2023, for clarification. In a letter, the governor reportedly stated that the measure was not in line with a number of judicial pronouncements and the Assembly lacked the legislative competence or right required. This comes after he received the requested clarification in November 2022.

The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling & Regulation of Online Games Bill is supported by the DMK-led government and will prohibit online money gambling in Tamil Nadu.

The bill’s adoption was necessitated following the Madras High Court’s decision to nullify the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act 2021 on August 2021. The measure prohibited activities involving bets and wagers in cyberspace.

While gambling is essentially a state issue, the online gambling bill is expected to cause some friction between the central and state governments. It will stop every operator within the province from offering such online gaming products. The gambling bodies are expected to make attempts to contest the ban in court.

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