Tamil Nadu Cabinet nods in favor of banning online gaming

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The Tamil Nadu cabinet on Monday approved an ordinance to ban online gaming for stakes in the state. The ordinance will soon be sent to the governor  for his assent.

Interestingly, the assembly session is scheduled next month where the draft gaming ban bill is proposed to be tabled. Ordinances are issued in emergency instances when assembly is not in session.

MK Stalin’s government had filed a petition to the Supreme Court of India, challenging the Madras High Court’s judgment. The HC in 2021 had struck down the state’s ban law on online gaming for stakes such as rummy and poker enacted by AIADMK government. The Apex Court had issued a notice to gaming firms seeking a response against the petition earlier this month.

Notably, the Madras HC’s decision to strike down the gaming ban was followed by High Courts of Kerala and Karnataka. The HC had stated that the blanket ban on gaming for stakes in skill games was in violation of Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution which allows people the right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade, or business.

“The High Court lost sight of the fact that the impugned amendment Act, in pith and substance, qualifies as a legislation on the subject of ‘betting’, which is a distinct area open for State legislation under the Constitution,” The Tamil Nadu government had argued in the plea filed with the Supreme Court.

While Karnataka is not acting to enact another law, the Tamil Nadu government in this regard had constituted a committee headed by retired Madras High Court judge K Chandru in June to analyse the impact caused by online gaming/gambling sites. The committee submitted a report on June 27 in favour of a ban. Subsequently, there were complaints from online gaming companies and also the public that their views were not taken into account. Kerala has also proposed an online gaming ban law to override the Kerala High Court decision in 2021.