Tamil Nadu Governor gives assent to Bill banning online gambling
Chennai | Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi has given his assent to a Bill banning online gambling which was adopted in March by the state Assembly for a second time, official sources said on Monday.
Just after the TN Assembly adopted a resolution urging the Centre and President to fix a timeframe for State Governors to approve Bills adopted by the House, Raj Bhavan sources said Ravi "has given his assent to the Bill." With the Governor clearing the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill, a gazette notification would follow. Advertisement in any form promoting online gambling or playing of online games of chance with money or other stakes is prohibited in the State. The specified online games of chance are Rummy and Poker.
Those violating the provision on advertisement for promotion or inducing people to play online gambling/games of chance face punishment with imprisonment upto one year or with fine, which may extend to Rs five lakh, or both.
In Tamil Nadu, any person indulging in online gambling/online games of chance with money or other stakes shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or with fine upto Rs 5,000 or both.
Any person who provides online gambling service or games of Poker and Rummy with money or other stakes shall face punishment with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to Rs 10 lakh or both.
The Governor "delaying" assent for the Bill and then returning it led to a fresh faceoff between Ravi and the DMK regime. Days after Ravi said the term "withheld" meant the Bill in question is dead, the Assembly has now passed a resolution asking the Centre to fix time limit for Governors to provide assent for Bills.
Following a popular outcry against online gambling with several persons choosing to end their lives after landing in debt trap and losing money heavily by playing such games, the government came with an ordinance last year to ban online gambling.
The ordinance (prohibiting online gambling, wager-based online games of chance of Rummy and Poker) was promulgated by Governor Ravi on October 1, 2022 and on October 3, a gazette notification was issued by the government. On October 19,2022 a Bill to replace the Ordinance was passed by Assembly and sent to the Governor.
After 131 days, the Bill was returned on March 6, 2023 by Governor Ravi to the Assembly. "Lack of legislative competence" was among the key reasons outlined by the Raj Bhavan for returning the Bill.
On March 23, 2023, the Assembly once again unanimously adopted the Bill to ban online gambling and sent it to Ravi. The government, citing Constitutional provisions stoutly defended its move and asserted that it is fully empowered to enact a Bill to ban online gambling.
When the Bill was passed by the Assembly for the second time, legal experts opined the Governor was duty bound to give his assent.
The background to the promulgation of the ordinance in 2022 and passage of a Bill to replace that was necessitated after the Madras High Court struck down in August 2021 the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act 2021 which banned wager or placing bets in cyber space.
Various political parties and outfits welcomed the Governor's move.