Last week, RN Ravi, the governor of Tamil Nadu, approved an ordinance that bans online gambling in the state. The same ordinance also seeks to regulate online gaming.
With the governor’s nod, the Tamil Nadu prohibition of online gambling and regulation of online games ordinance, 2022 comes into force. The ordinance file has been sent to the parliament on October 1st,
The new act restricts online gambling (especially Poker and Rummy) and games of chance where players bet money and other forms of stakes. The ordinance also restricts banks, payment gateways, and financial institutions from processing payments to such gambling platforms. Further, advertisements that directly or indirectly entice users to gamble are also banned.
How the Ordinance Will Affect Online Games in the State
As per the new ordinance, domestic online games provider will have to undergo registration, which will last for 3 years. “The online games provider shall not provide any online gaming service or allow playing of any online game of chance specified in the Schedule with money or other stakes,” the ordinance mentions.
As far as international game providers are concerned, they are restricted from providing any online gambling services. These non-local providers cannot provide services that go against the state’s regulations.
Any individual that breaches the new rules or advertises gambling services can face prison time ranging from 3 months to 1 year, along with a fine ranging from 5000 INR to 5,00,000 INR. For the service provider, the prison time can go up to 3 years and the fine can be 10,00,000 INR.
Tamil Nadu Gaming Authority to be Set Up
The new ordinance also contains guidelines to set up Tamil Nadu Gaming Authority, a board of five members. The gaming authority would issue registration certificates, regulate online games, and ask the government to act as per the IT Act 2000.
The Tamil Nadu Gaming Authority will have the same powers as a Civil Court. This means that the authority can summon a person, receive oral and written evidence and requisitioning records.
AIGF Advises Reconsideration of the Ordinance
Interestingly, the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF) has asked the state government to reconsider the new ordinance. The CEO of the federation has said that he finds the ordinance disappointing.
In a comment, Roland Landers, the CEO of AIGF said, “The ban can have an adverse effect on the state and will push more and more people towards illegal offshore websites… This is disappointing as it disregards the 6 decades of established legal jurisprudence and also the recent judgment of the Madras HC that struck down a similar law.”
Landers further said, “As the apex industry body for online gaming, we at the All India Gaming Federation have been engaging with the government to understand their concerns and have also made them aware of the proliferation of offshore gambling websites and apps which flourish when constitutionally protected Indian apps are banned.”
He added, “We had provided various consumer protection and other measures which stop short of an outright ban. In such a scenario this is unfortunate.”
Meanwhile, the central government is seeking for some stricter regulations for the online gaming, mobile games, and esports as well.