Karnataka, Tamil Nadu urge Centre to pass law to ban online gaming for stakes

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Many states, including Karnataka, have pleaded with the Centre to pass legislation outlawing online gaming for stakes, claiming that the activity is damaging the lives of people, especially the youth. The request was made at the two-day conference of law ministers and secretaries of all states that took place at Ekta Nagar, Gujarat in October.

Law ministers from several states, including Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and others, made a compelling case for a central law, claiming that numerous young people have even been driven to commit suicide as a result of massive financial losses from online betting.

Karnataka law and parliamentary affairs minister JC Madhuswamy said in the conference, “Union law minister Kiran Rijiju responded positively [to the demand] as the Centre is aware of the ill effects of online gambling on society.”

He claimed that since efforts by individual states to regulate online gaming have reached their limit, only a central statute by the parliament will be successful. “Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments had banned online games involving betting and wagering by way of law, but the respective high courts struck down these laws saying they were unconstitutional,” he said.

The Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act 2021, which outlawed and classified all online games with stakes as a crime, was overturned by the Karnataka High Court in February of this year.

Despite being quite different in nature, the court concluded that the law treats games of skill and chance equally. It observed further that the government had passed the regulation without any backing from research to understand the negative impacts of online gaming.

A similar law passed by the MK Stalin-led government was similarly overturned by the Madras High Court. The TN government formed a panel under the direction of Justice K Chandru to investigate the negative consequences of online gambling with stakes while contesting the ruling in the Supreme Court.

In the report submitted by the committee in June, the panel suggested outright banning of both online gaming and the commercials that promote it.

The TN government has already passed a bill to ban online gaming for stakes in the state and it has received the assent of the Governor and soon a law will come into force.