Tamil Nadu, the Gateway of South India, is on the path to banning online gambling after the state’s governor RN Ravi approved a bill that bans online poker and rummy, but also puts scrutiny on a few other online gambling activities, such as fantasy sports.
While gambling is already illegal in India according to The Public Gambling Act of 1867, this law obviously doesn’t say anything about online gambling. This “loophole” allows online casinos based abroad to operate in India freely, at least in most states that didn’t explicitly ban online gambling.
According to these latest reports, it seems that Tamil Nadu will join those states that chose to fight online gambling, unlike some of the other Indian states that decided to go the other way and legalise gambling or parts of it, like Goa, Daman and Sikkim.
What Does the Online Gambling Law of Tamil Nadu Include?
The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Bill, which is the official name of the bill passed by the state assembly, offers a solution to growing concerns regarding online gambling. The initiative to ban or regulate online gambling came into being in the autumn of 2022 and it was resolved pretty quickly, especially by Indian standards.
Justice K Chandru, the leader of the four-member committee that was tasked with offering recommendations on online gambling in Tamil Nadu, said that all parties were united in banning gambling that involves real money. This law also prohibits gambling ads of any kind, both regarding online casino games for real money and virtual stakes.
What Are the Penalties for Breaking the New Law?
Tamil Nadu authorities made sure to implement an elaborate system of penalties for anyone engaging in the activity
According to Tamil Nadu authorities, offenders can be subject to a fine of up to ₹5,000, imprisonment for up to three months, or both. The law also includes repercussions for those who encourage others to participate in online gambling, including a fine of up to ₹5 lahks, imprisonment of up to one year, or both.
Finally, those who offer online gambling in Tamil Nadu, as well as games like rummy and poker, can face a fine of to ₹10 lakh, imprisonment for up to 3 years, or both.
The Bill’s Stance on Fantasy Sports
Meanwhile, when it comes to fantasy sports, this activity won’t be banned immediately. Instead, each company that offers fantasy sports will be investigated by a special committee, which will determine whether the said company will be put under regulation or banned.
However, Chandru notes that the rules yet have to be framed and the committee won’t be formed until the notification is published in the Gazette.
Opening the Doors for Tamil Nadu Online Gambling Authority
The new law isn’t just made to crack online gambling, but also open the door for establishing Online Gaming Authority for the state. This authority is supposed to include a team of experts, including:
- An officer retired from a post no lower than Chief of Secretary
- An officer retired from a post no lower than Inspector General of Police
- An expert from the information technology industry
- A respected psychologist
- An online gaming specialist
E-Gaming Federation Publicly Opposes the New Law
As expected, the online gambling industry isn’t fond of this new framework and they already expressed their discontent with the law. Some companies said that they will try to overturn the ban, based on the fact that the previous court classification of rummy and poker said that they are games of skill and not chance.
Also, The Indian E-Gaming Federation also expressed their unfavourable views of the new set of rules and their secretary noted that they will take further action based on legal advice they get.