Gaming Ban Law: TN govt clarifies Governor queries, says not all online games are banned

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The Tamil Nadu government on Friday said no complete ban on online games has been proposed but only online gambling has been proscribed in the state. The state government was responding to queries raised by Governor R N Ravi who is required to assent to the Bill to make it as an enactment. The ordinance which preceded the Bill is set to lapse in next few days.

Referring to doctrine of proportionality,  state Law Minister S Raghupathy said no total ban has been proposed.”Games are not completely banned. They have been differentiated as game of chance and game of skill and only online gambling is banned. Therefore, it is a proportional restriction,” the minister clarified.

“On Thursday morning, we received a letter from the Governor asking for certain clarifications. We submitted our response within 24 hours. This shows the DMK government under Chief Minister M K Stalin is keen on enforcing the ban in the interest of the people,” Raghupathy told reporters here. The DMK government is under immense pressure from opposition parties to implement the law. Although the ordinance received governor approval, the state government has not yet notified the date of implementation.

A similar law passed by the previous AIADMK government was quashed as unconstitutional by the Madras High Court in August 2021 and hence the Stalin government had to enact a new legislation. “We addressed the issues raised by the Madras High Court and also included certain clauses and sent the Bill for assent,” the law minister claimed. An appeal against the Madras High Court decision is currently pending with the Supreme Court. 

As per reports, the Governor raised an issue pertaining to the judgment of the Madras High Court that the legislation already enacted on the same subject is not constitutional. In particular, a complete ban without distinction between game of chance and skill is against Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.

“We replied that the proposed Act is within the ambit of the Constitution, and has been framed considering the entries in List 2 of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. The power of the state government on making laws on gambling can be traced to Entry 34 List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution on betting and gambling: public order, public health, theaters and dramatic performances,” the Law Minister was quoted as saying.