Expected Guv Ravi to give assent to Bill on online gambling by Sunday: S Reghupathy

Inclusion of rummy as game of chance violates SC judgment, says e-gaming federation
TN Governor RN Ravi. (Photo | Express/Ashwin Prasath)
TN Governor RN Ravi. (Photo | Express/Ashwin Prasath)

CHENNAI/PUDUKOTTAI: The ordinance banning online gambling lapsed on Sunday, and all eyes are on Governor RN Ravi since the Bill on the matter is still pending with him. Asked about the government’s next move, a top officer said: “We await the approval of the governor for the Bill.”

The ordinance was not notified by the Tamil Nadu government after the governor gave his assent last month for the ordinance. Meanwhile, on October 19, the Assembly passed the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gaming and Regulation of Online Games Bill, 2022, to ban online gambling. This and 19 other Bills await the governor’s assent.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Law Minister S Reghupathy confirmed that the ordinance expired on Sunday. “We expected that the governor would give his assent by Sunday evening after the state on Friday submitted its reply to the three clarifications he sought regarding the Bill. But it did not come.”

Since the ordinance has lapsed, curbs on online gambling would be taken up under existing laws. The minister refused to comment on the delay by the governor to give his assent to the Bill but said TN awaited the assent so the law could be notified and implemented. On whether online gambing lobby would approach the Supreme Court after the law is passed, he said TN had ensured that the law had no shortcoming that would allow the lobby to move courts.

“We are surprised and disappointed at the ordinance issued by TN government, which categorised rummy as a game of chance. Rummy being a game of skill has been settled by the Supreme Court and has been held to be a protected trade under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. TN including rummy as a game of chance is directly in violation of the Supreme Court judgments and also the recent judgment of the Madras High Court, which overturned the law banning online games, including rummy,” said Sameer Barde, CEO, E-Gaming Federation.

Defending TN’s move to ban online gambling, Minister Reghupathy said the decision was taken as 95% of the people were in favour of banning online rummy and poker. He highlighted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) termed online gaming a disorder and underlined TN’s role in finding a way to curb the menace and cure the disorder.

“This is what Chief Minister MK Stalin did while bringing out the ordinance,” the minister said. On why the governor is delaying his assent to the Bill, the minister said: “There is no need for him to delay giving assent to the Bill. We don’t know why he is delaying it.” The move to ban online games came up after 20 suicides were reported across TN during the past three years due to online gaming with stakes.

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