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TN Rummy ban ordinance soon, Chief Secretary holds meeting with top officials

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The State government may promulgate an Ordinance soon to ban online games involving betting and gambling and may regulate games that are addictive in nature by restricting the time and money spent on them by users, reported The New Indian Express. It has been more than one month since the Justice K Chandru committee submitted a report in favour of a ban.

Chief Secretary V Irai Anbu on Saturday held a discussion with top officials including Home Secretary K Phanindra Reddy, DGP C Sylendrababu, IT Secretary Kumar Jayant, and Law Secretary Gopi Ravikumar on the recommendations made by Justice K Chandru to regulate such games.

According to reports, as a total ban on all online games could face tough legal hurdles, the State may come up with access restrictions to limit the time spent on online games such as once a day or a week. Even the quantum of money that could be spent on online games could be restricted.

The earlier law enacted by the AIDMK government was quashed by the Madras High Court as being illegal and unconstitutional. An appeal against the decision is currently pending before the Supreme Court.

The challenge before the State is that addiction to online games is growing like a social disorder, and at least 17 gaming-related suicides have been recorded across Tamil Nadu over the past three years. Even the World Health Organisation has termed gaming a disorder.

The Centre has also constituted an inter-ministerial task force to regulate the online gaming industry and is holding consultations with States on bringing out separate legislation or changes in the existing legislation to regulate the industry. The Ministry of Information and Technology has held multiple meetings with gaming stakeholders in the past two months.

While online games can be banned, the major technical challenge would be to control internet access, reported TNIE. Hence, the goal would be to regulate the companies involved in gaming or the players involved in gaming. Earlier, Tamil Nadu Law Minister Raghupathi said there is a need for national-level legislation against online rummy and other games played for stakes.

Social pressure could be brought on the players through awareness drives in schools, sources said. The number of gamers in India is close to 400 million and is expected to reach 700 million by 2025. The mobile gaming market in India is projected to hit a $5 billion opportunity by 2025 from the current $1.5 billion, according to a recent Sequoia India and Boston Consulting Group report.

The panel’s report pointed to the impact of online games at the societal level and how these games propel adolescents to misuse their parents’ credit cards, etc. Political parties have been urging the government to enact a law expeditiously to ban these games.

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