CHENNAI: A day after the Union government argued in the Madras High Court that state governments lack the authority to ban online gambling, Law Minister S Regupathy firmly asserted that gambling falls within the purview of the state list, and therefore, Tamil Nadu government can bring out an Act banning it.
Talking to reporters at his office on Thursday, Regupathy expressed dismay over the remarks made by the Union government’s advocate in the court.
“He contended that state governments lack the authority to enact laws banning online gambling. However, gambling comes under the state list. Even union ministers have said in Parliament that only state governments have the authority to regulate online gambling. States like Telangana and one in the northeast have already implemented Acts banning online gambling,” Regupathy said.
Drawing a distinction between online and offline gambling, Regupathy said, “Offline games are played by individuals, whereas online gambling involves an external programmer who can manipulate the game.” Criticising the Centre for levying 18% GST on online gambling, he said, “While Tamil Nadu was urging the Centre to ban online gambling, the Union government brought rules in IT Act to generate revenue from the activity. We consider it a ‘revenue of sin’. The Union government should introduce legislation to ban online gambling altogether. Instead of collecting revenue from online gambling, the Union government should prioritise public welfare and address concerns.”
Regupathy also highlighted the opinion of Justice K Chandru's panel which conducted a comprehensive study on the impact of online gambling, gathering opinion from all stakeholders, including gambling firms. As regards the court case, Regupathy expressed confidence in the ability of the state government’s lawyers in getting a verdict favouring the public.