In what could complicate matters for online gaming platforms, Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi has reportedly given his assent to a Bill that proposes a complete ban on online gambling in the state.
This comes hours after the state Assembly, led by the ruling DMK, unanimously passed a resolution against Governor Ravi. Shortly afterwards, the Governor, according to NDTV, accorded his approval to the Bill, which bans online gambling and brings online gaming platforms under the state government’s ambit.
It is pertinent to note that Ravi, last month, sent back the Bill for changes while noting that the Tamil Nadu Assembly had ‘no legislative competence’ to frame such norms. However, now, he has cleared the last remaining decks for the Bill to turn into law.
Called the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gaming and Regulation of Online Games Act, 2022, the new law has specified a fine of up to INR 5,000, or imprisonment of up to three months, for those participating in gambling online.
While the rules propose imprisonment of up to a year for platforms advertising such games, the new Act also specifies a jail term of up to three years for the organisers of such games.
The development also comes hours after the head of the Tamil Nadu online gaming panel, Justice K Chandru called for a complete ban on online gambling in the state. Commenting on the recently notified online gaming rules by the Union government, he said that the Centre-backed norms had no bearing on the stance of Tamil Nadu government as it saw no other way except for an outright ban.
The approval is a shot in the arm for the Tamil Nadu government, which has been embroiled in multiple public spats with the Governor. However, the announcement could see the state government and the Centre fight it out in the courts, and it remains to be seen which side prevails in such a prospective situation.
Meanwhile, industry players do not seem too happy with the move. The CEO of All India Gaming Federation, Roland Landers, has said that it will challenge the constitutionality of the law once it is notified.
Lashing out at the state government, he said that the new law conflates games of skill as gambling and games of chance. He also added that the new norms disregard established legal jurisprudence and a recent Madras High Court judgement that struck down a similar law. Backing the Centre, he said that the Union government had the rightful mandate under the Constitution to regulate online gaming in the country.
However, the online gaming space continues to see big traction in the country. According to a report, India accounted for 507 million online gamers at the end of March 2022, with the homegrown online gaming market projected to grow to $8.6 billion by FY27.