Can Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh Enforce Ban On iGaming?
There have been several public interest litigation (PILs) filed against online gambling operators throughout India. These PILs have been filed in multiple states in South India and are now slowly working their way across the country.
PIL Allegations Lead To iGaming Ban
Any one group or organization has not filed the PILs. Records show that different individuals have filed PILs in state high courts, but the charges brought against the iGaming industry have more or less been the same.
PILs filed in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, all states in Southern India, point out that online gambling has thrived in recent years, especially during the lockdown. While online gambling has thrived, there has also been a spike in the increase of problem gambling, young people getting into debt to support their gambling habits, and a rise in the number of suicides that have a direct link to gambling.
Many of these cases have made the news and have forced both the state high court and the state governments to pay attention to the PILs. Some of the PILs have also gone on record to question the legality of offshore casino operators providing services in India. Allegations have been made that cross-currency exchange violations and money laundering could also occur via these offshore gaming operators.
The state court in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu gave the government the option of either banning online gambling completely or putting together robust regulations that will license and govern iGaming in their states. Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu decided that it was in their best interests to ban all online gambling forms and have done so.
Kerala appears to be heading down that same road as they recently revoked the earlier exemption they gave to online rummy. With the exemption revoked, online rummy is now banned in Kerala. The capital Delhi is also looking at banning online gambling after a PIL was filed in the Delhi High Court along the same lines.
While individuals have filed these PILs against iGaming operators, it will be interesting for someone to dig deeper and find out if a certain organization or political party is calling the shots and using different individuals to do their bidding.
Can States Truly Enforce iGaming Ban?
While Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have banned online gambling, the question remains if these states can truly enforce the iGaming ban. Several offshore gaming operators who were offering their services in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and stated in their terms and conditions that they would no longer offer their services in these two states.
However, some offshore gaming operators continue to offer online gambling in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, even though their terms and conditions state otherwise. Most of the regular online players from these two states have not had any problem accessing online gambling sites and playing their favorite online slots, casino games, and even indulging in sports betting.
This makes us wonder what actions have states like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have taken to stop offshore gaming operators from offering their services. States that have imposed bans on online gambling in recent months have provided information on the measures they have taken or are going to take to prevent players from gaining access to these sites.
Do States Have The Resources To Ban iGaming?
If players can still access online gambling services in states that have banned online gambling in India, it raises the question of whether states really have the resources to ban iGaming. The more pertinent question is whether states can spare the resources and time right now to set up protocols to ban online gambling.
India has been devastated by the pandemic and has suffered significant financial losses. State governments across the country are currently looking at ways to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine and help businesses recover from the pitfalls of 2020. Tamil Nadu will also be looking to prepare for a state election in 2021, and hence there are not many resources at the moment to spare.
It looks like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have banned online gambling immediately to appease the High Court and silence the PILs. However, enforcing that ban will not be a priority for most states in India right now as there are more pressing matters at hand.
We will have to wait and see if more PILs are filed this time, stating that offshore casino operators continue to offer iGaming services despite the ban.