The Tamil Nadu Assembly passed a Bill moved by Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Wednesday to prohibit online gambling and to regulate online games in the State.
The Bill seeks to replace an Ordinance promulgated by Governor R.N. Ravi recently banning online gambling and regulating online gaming.
According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill, online gambling and online games are addictive in nature and increase the threat to public order manifold, while posing difficulties in terms of designing appropriate regulation.
A committee headed by retired High Court Justice K. Chandru, constituted to advise the government on enacting a fresh legislation on online games, had in its report observed that online version of any game cannot be compared with the offline version, except in cases of word games or board games not involving any random outcome generator.
Another issue that has been raised is that gambling is available at all hours and often involves players competing with non-human/virtual participants, which are controlled by computer algorithms making it difficult to assess degree of chance or skill in remote games independent of the algorithm or programme.
It states that the remote gambling often takes place by means of virtual currencies and tokens, by passing the State’s financial surveillance.
Ban to be challenged
Taking action against the Tamil Nadu government’s ban on online gaming, the E-gaming Federation (EGF) is set to challenge the new law citing that it categorizes rummy and poker as games of chance.
In a statement, Sameer Barde, CEO of EGF, said: “After examining the Ordinance, we have decided to file a lawsuit as it categorises Rummy and Poker as games of chance. This is in dissonance with multiple legal judicial pronouncements including the recent judgment by the Madras High Court, which has clearly segregated games of skill and chance.”
“The Supreme Court and several High Courts have reaffirmed the status of skill-based games as legitimate business activity and Tamil Nadu must take cognizance of these judgments in developing an enabling gaming policy that safeguards players than resorting to a ban.”
The statement said that for the online skill gaming industry and for Tamil Nadu, the need of the hour was a comprehensive online gaming policy that protects players and ensures that only legitimate online skill-gaming operators offer their services while weeding out the ones who break the law.