End to online gambling soon says TN CM Stalin in assembly

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Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin today said his government would put a “full stop” to online gaming with stakes, reiterating the state government’s tough stand on instituting a ban on gaming for stakes. The chief minister was responding to a query by AIDMK leader V. Vaithilingam in the state assembly.

The treasury benches responded to the chief minister’s response with applause. Stalin said the state government was keen on proceeding with a legal course already on track. The state under the AIDMK rule enacted a law to ban online gaming for stakes. The state government had amended a 90-year old Tamil Nadu Gaming Act, 1930, and other related laws last year. Brought in as an ordinance initially, the law was later approved by the state assembly.

Playing games like Rummy, Poker etc, using computers or mobile phones, for money or other stakes, which are addictive in nature, had developed manifold, in the recent times. As a result, innocent people got cheated and incidents of suicide were reported. In order to prevent such incidents of suicide and protect innocent people from the evils of online gaming, it was decided to ban wagering or betting in cyber space by suitably amending the relevant enactments,” the government said as a reason to enact the online gaming ban related amendments.

Also read: Online rummy and poker – a clear game of chance: DMK MP Senthil writes to IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw

The gaming operators challenged the constitutional validity of the ban law before the Madras High Court. A first bench of the Madras High Court quashed the amendment law as unconstitutional. The Court said that by imposing a wide-ranging, complete ban, the amendment has failed the least intrusive test and fallen afoul of Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution. Immediately, after the decision the Law Minister S. Regupathy has confirmed that the DMK-led government will introduce a new law to ban online games like poker and rummy for stakes in the state.

However, no law has been introduced so far. The Stalin-led government, however, has challenged the Madras High Court decision before the Supreme Court. In the appeal before the Supreme Court, the government raised the issue of youth suicides due to online gambling addiction as one of the reasons for enacting a ban.

Last week, Mr. A. Ramadoss, a Rajya Sabha member from Tamil Nadu said that gambling became rampant after the Madras High Court decision. The MP cited an example of one victim, a software engineer from Kumarapalayam who committed himself after losing Rs 30 lakh in online rummy. Meanwhile, the former CM and AIDMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami whose government enacted the now quashed gaming law has demanded the DMK government to enact a new law.