TN promulgates Ordinance to ban online gambling, restricts online games

Apart from online gambling, the Ordinance also bans use of money in online games of chance.
Representative Image
Representative Image

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi promulgated an Ordinance to ban online gambling and to regulate online games. The Ordinance named the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Ordinance, 2022, will establish Tamil Nadu Online Gaming Authority and empower the authority to impose fine and imprison those playing games, hosting games and making advertisements for online gambling.

Apart from online gambling, the Ordinance also bans use of money in online games of chance. The ban of online gambling is in line with the demand of most political parties and parents and teachers who had demanded a blanket ban on online gambling and sought strict regulations of online games in terms of timing and usage of money.

To study the impact of online gaming and gambling, the State government appointed the Justice Chandru Committee in June, this year, and the committee in a span of two weeks submitted its report. The report was discussed in multiple cabinet meetings and the Ordinance took the shape after three months of submission of the report. Meanwhile, the State government received the views of the public and stakeholders about the ordinance and 99 per cent were in support of a blanket ban on both online gambling and online gaming.

The reasons given by them included reduction in concentration of students in studies, increasing eye defects, decrease in intelligent quotient, writing skills and creativity of students, decrease in self-esteem of students, increase of anger and growing indiscipline among students. Out of 10,735 mails, 10,708 requested a total ban on online games.

Governor gives consent to the bill on the same day:

While the government made several changes to the Ordinance, the Governor gave assent in just a day. According to confidential sources in Raj Bhavan, the Bill was cleared by the Governor on the same day it was received. Governor Ravi who went through the Bill gave his consent on the same day without any changes.

Regulations for online gaming:

The State differentiates online games into online games of chance and online games of skills. While there is no regulation for online games of skills, the government intends to regulate online games of chance. It defines online game of chance as the game that "involves both an element of chance and an element of skill and element of chance dominates over the element of skill and the game that is presented as involving an element of chance."

The games that involve cards, dice, wheel or such other device, which works on random or event generators are termed as online games of chance. While the government imposed a blanket ban on online gambling it intends to regulate online games of chance by saying that "no online games provider shall provide any online game of chance with money or other stakes".

The Ordinance also bans banks, financial institutions or payment gateways from engaging in any transaction or authorisation of funds towards payment for any online gambling or any online game of chance.

The ordinance also distinguishes local and non-local games providers. Local online games provider is a company that has its central management and control of the service in the state and whose services that are available for access by the customers, is hosted in Tamil Nadu.

The non-local games providers, when compared to the local games providers, have an additional burden of verifying whether the customers are based in Tamil Nadu or in other parts of the country by obtaining their personal details.

Online gaming authority:

The authority will have a chairperson who is an officer, retired from the post not below the rank of Chief Secretary, and four members, including an officer, who has retired from the post not below the rank of IG of Police, an expert in the field of Information Technology, an eminent psychologist and an expert in the field of online gaming.

Offences and penalties:

Any person indulging in online gambling or game of chance shall be punishable with an imprisonment of three months or with a fine of Rs 5,000 or with both. Any person making advertisement of online gambling or online game of chance is punishable with an imprisonment of one year or Rs 5 lakh fine or with both. Any person providing online gambling service or any online game of chance with money or other stakes shall be punishable with an imprisonment of three years or fine of Rs 10 lakh or with both.

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