Ban online gaming with stakes, recommends Justice Chandru Committee

Also ban advertisements that encourage people to play such games, says panel

June 28, 2022 12:22 am | Updated 12:47 pm IST - Chennai

The Justice K. Chandru Committee, which looked into the adverse effects of online gaming with stakes, has recommended that the Tamil Nadu government ban it as well as advertisements that encourage people to play such games, by promulgating an ordinance.

In its report, which was submitted to Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Monday, the panel also recommended that the State government insist on the Union government enacting a national-level law against online gaming with stakes under Article 252 of the Constitution. It also recommended that the State government expedite its appeal in a related case pending before the Supreme Court.

The State Cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister in the evening, was informed about the report submitted by the committee. “The report is to be scrutinised by multiple government departments before a decision on promulgating an ordinance is taken,” a source privy to the development told The Hindu.

The 71-page report contended that there was no skill involved in any of the online games, and they invariably made the players increasingly addicted and, eventually, indebted to the company. There was no question of regulating the games, as it was just impossible to do so, it said.

As a previous legislation banning online games with stakes was struck down by the Madras High Court, the panel recommended that the State government come up with a new legislation outside the earlier framework. The earlier law focused on gaming and betting law and whether skills were involved, and the panel has recommended the government to focus on the grounds of “public health and public order”.

The panel also pointed out that there were 17 suicides across Tamil Nadu during the past three years due to online gaming with stakes. Approximate figures of revenue generated by the companies were also provided in the report, which was quite substantial.

The report also observed that the interest of the company was primarily in making more money and not in developing the player’s skill, and contended that the State could impose restrictions on online gaming, including prohibition.

As for the aspect of skill, it said players were being made to play with the machine, and there was no skill involved, since the random factor was picked by several other factors that were predetermined by the companies.

With the help of an expert in the panel, it also elaborated on the psychological effects of online gaming with stakes on the minds of the people, and how technology could be manipulated.

It may be recalled that the Tamil Nadu government, earlier this month, decided to promulgate an ordinance to regulate online gaming, and constituted a panel under Justice K. Chandru to examine issues related to online gaming and submit a report.

“Based on the report, an ordinance would be promulgated, considering the need to find a solution to this issue at once,” the government had said. Though legislation banning online gaming was enacted by the Tamil Nadu Assembly in February last year, the Madras High Court struck it down in August that year.

The appeal preferred by the Tamil Nadu government in the Supreme Court in November last year is yet to be taken up for hearing. The legislation enacted by other States, including Karnataka and Kerala, were also struck down by the respective High Courts.

(Assistance for overcoming suicidal thoughts is available on the State’s health helpline 104 and Sneha’s suicide prevention helpline 044-24640050.)

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