Tamil Nadu Bans Online Gambling and Delhi Discuses Potential Ban
The Tamil Nadu government caught online gamblers off-guard when they made a surprise announcement and confirmed that online gambling would now be banned in the Southern state.
Before this, online players in Tamil Nadu had access to numerous offshore online gaming sites that allowed them to play popular games like online poker, online rummy, teen-Patti. Individuals located in Tamil Nadu were also able to access offshore sportsbooks and place bets on various domestic and international sports.
TN Passes Amendment To Ban iGaming
Tamil Nadu’s gaming laws were sketchy, and it allowed offshore gaming operators to offer their services in the Southern state freely. The Madras High Court heard a petition in July 2020 that looked to push for online gambling legalization.
Justice B Pugalendhi, who presided over the hearing, was neutral on the matter and said that he wasn’t against a legalized gambling in the state but said it was important to have an independent regulator monitor the industry ensure that there was a standard of accountability.
The onus was placed on the ruling AIDMK government to decide whether they wanted to legalize and regulate the industry or go with an outright ban. Legalizing and regulating the industry would have resulted in the state government collecting gaming taxes and creating jobs in the state.
However, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami decided that there were too many concerns associated with a legalized gambling industry and decided to ban all forms of online gambling immediately.
A new amendment called the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, was made to the existing Tamil Nadu Gaming Act, 1930.
Fines and Punishments
The new gaming laws in Tamil Nadu will impact both players and iGaming operators who engage in illegal online gambling activities. Operators who continue to offer online gaming and sports betting services in Tamil Nadu will be slapped with charges, with their top executives will face jail time and a penalty.
Players who engage in illegal online gambling activities will face a fine of 10,000 rupees or 24 months in jail or both. Any retail betting shop, including cyber cafes that offer betting services, could be slapped with a 5 year fine. The owner of these cyber cafes and betting parlors will be the ones who get served with the fine.
While the new gaming amendment clarifies the fines and penalties, there is no clear information on how the government plans to monitor and enforce these new rules.
The government was forced to take action against the online gambling industry as the number of gambling-related deaths in the state has increased in the last few months. The majority of these gambling-related deaths were due to suicide as these players got themselves into heavy debt due to their gambling activities.
A TN government official termed online gambling as a menace that destroyed the lives of young people. He said the best way to stop this was to end it once and for all. We will need to wait and see if this ban will be effective or if players continue to defy the law and gamble at offshore gaming sites.
Delhi High Court Reviews Ban On iGaming
Delhi could very well be the next big state to ban iGaming after Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu. The Delhi High Court is reviewing public interest litigation (PIL), pushing for a ban on online gambling.
The PIL targets online casino games, online poker, online rummy, and sports betting, stating that even though the law does not allow online gambling in Delhi, numerous iGaming sites offer these services in Delhi. The PIL says that since there is no oversight of these iGaming sites, it is easy for Delhi players to be exploited and develop an addiction to online gambling.
The PIL also alleges that iGaming sites offering services in Delhi violate Income Tax laws and Foreign Exchange laws. The PIL was filed by one Avinash Mehotra, who has urged the Delhi High Court not only to ban online gambling but put in place fines and punishments so that anyone violating the ban will be held accountable.
This is not the first PIL to be filed in the Delhi High Court against online gambling. So far, the court has not decided on the matter and has asked the Central Government to decide on the matter. We need to wait and see if the Delhi High Court once again dismisses this PIL or makes a ruling on it.