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Online Gambling Ban: Tamil Nadu Ordinance Challenged in Madras High Court

An ordinance passed by the Tamil Nadu government recently, banning online gambling, has been challenged in the Madras High Court. The first bench of Acting Chief Justice T Raja and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy, before which the PIL petition from All India Gaming Federation, by its general secretary Sunil Krishnamurthy on Thursday came up, adjourned the matter till November 16.

The writ petition sought to declare the Tamil Nadu Ordinance No 4 of 2022 — the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Ordinance — as unconstitutional.

Among other things, the petitioner contended the authorities have enacted the impugned ordinance specifically categorising Rummy and Poker as games of chance, whereas they are games of skill.

As such, they would not fall under the ambit of “betting and gambling”. In fact, the Law Commission of India, in its 276th report, had categorically stated these were games of skill as more skilful players will always win over the less skilled ones or novices. This had also been reiterated by this High Court in Junglee Games and this judgment had not been stayed by the Supreme Court.

The Ordinance will force several members of the petitioner association to stop their business activities in Tamil Nadu, the petitioner contended and sought to stay its operation.

The Tamil Nadu government had passed the ordinance last month to prohibit online gambling and regulate online games in the State and said an online gaming authority will be established to exercise powers conferred by the ordinance.

Online games and gambling ruined families, led to suicides, caused gaming addiction affecting public health, disturbing social order, and prejudices the maintenance of public order. Hence the need for the ordinance, it had then said.

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