Tamil Nadu: Protests erupt against Governor R.N. Ravi for delaying his assent to Gaming Ban Bill

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A massive protest has taken place against Governor R N Ravi in Tamil Nadu (TN) today by the members of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) and students demanding a ban on online gambling.

The protest is not the first time the Governor has come under fire for delaying his assent for the bill banning online gambling as several politicians across parties like PMK, DMK and AIADMK have criticized him.

The ordinance banning online gambling was approved in September by the cabinet. It was introduced as a bill – Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling & Regulation of Online Games Bill, 2022 – by Law Minister S Regupathy in the legislative assembly and passed in October.

The ordinance lapsed on November 28 and the bill is yet to receive the Governor’s assent. The E-gaming Federation (EGF), All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) and some gaming companies challenged the ordinance in the Madras High Court as skill-based games like rummy and poker were also included in the ordinance under games of chance.

The petitions were filed while referring to the Supreme Court (SC) judgements stating that rummy was recognized as a game of skill and not chance and is protected under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.

The Madras High Court then told the parties to withdraw their petitions as the bill was not approved and currently there was no ban on online gaming.

After observing the delay in approval for the Gaming Ban Bill, many politicians questioned the Governor’s intentions and started asking for reasons. The state’s ruling party DMK stated, criticizing the Governor, “The delay by the Governor in giving his assent to the Bill has raised suspicion among people. The government sent an ordinance to the Governor on October 1, which he approved the same day. But the Bill which was sent to him on October 28 is still lying in his office. No explanation has been offered for the delay.”

The president of the PMK, Anbumani Ramadoss, also demanded a quick approval of the bill. Ramadoss has recently said, “More than 32 people have committed suicide due to online gaming in the last 15 months. In a bid to prevent such a tragedy, a ban on online gaming is a must.”

Several people from TN also started protesting on social media criticizing Ravi for his decision to withhold his assent. Many people still consider online games like poker and rummy as gambling and have reportedly lost family members due to losing heavy sums while playing them.