Tamil Nadu implements online gaming law, operators to start complying

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The long awaited law to prohibit online games of rummy and poker has come into force in Tamil Nadu with the government notifying the rules to implement the law on Friday.

The state government notified the ‘Tamil Nadu Online Gaming Authority and Regulation of Online Games Rules,’ to implement the legislation after Governor TN Ravi gave his assent to the law.

The bill became a contentious issue between the DMK government and governor Ravi as he withheld the assent initially and referred the matter back to assembly for reconsideration.

The law prohibits online rummy and online poker in Tamil Nadu stating that online versions of games involving any ‘random outcome generator’ are not equivalent to offline version of these games. The government relied on a committee report headed by Justice Chandru to back the decision to impose a ban on online rummy and poker platforms.

A five-member Gaming Authority as required for overseeing the implementation of the law will be led by a retired bureaucrat not below the rank of chief secretary, and is empowered to issue show cause notice to an online games provider, if operators fail to comply with the provisions.

The Authority’s roles include: (i) regulation of all forms of online games; (ii) issuance of certificates to online games providers (including games not involving stakes); (iii) identification of online games of chance to be specifically prohibited from being played for stakes; (iv) overseeing the functioning of online games providers in Tamil Nadu; (v) collection and maintenance of information and data with regard to the activities of online games providers; (vi) resolution of grievances and complaints relating to online games providers; and (vii) formulating regulations relating to time limits, monetary limits and age restrictions relating to online games.

Online rummy and poker providers will be required to either (i) implement geo-blocking technology to block users from Tamil Nadu from accessing the rummy and poker games; or (ii) implement due diligence requirements to restrict users from Tamil Nadu from accessing the blocked games.

An earlier version of the law was quashed by Madras High Court as unconstitutional and an appeal is pending before the Supreme Court against the order. Even the current law is prone to litigation as industry bodies have signalled intention to challenge the law before Courts.