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Tamil Nadu Bans Online Betting, excluding games of skill

The government of Tamil Nadu has banned online betting within the state, making it illegal for residents or visitors to conduct online betting activities on Tamil Nadu territory.

The move was taken by the government after recent stories about an increase in suicides among players who had lost money due to online gambling.

In addition, a growing number of fraud cases have surfaced in recent months, with players using unregistered and unlicensed betting sites and eventually losing all their money.

To counteract these issues, the Tamil Nadu government decided to fully prohibit online gambling within the state.

What is written in the law?

Under the new law, a person can be found guilty if wagering or betting online using computers, computer resources, any communication devices like mobile phones or any other instrument of gaming. 

Online betting on games such as rummy and poker also attract punishment. This can be punishable with imprisonment of up to two years and a fine of up to Rs. 10,000 or both. The ordinance exempts games of skill from this provision.

Unlike in the case of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, the law does not introduce a blanket ban on offering online games. Online games involving skill continue to be exempted from the application of the restrictions under the Tamil Nadu gaming act. 

It is worth noting that the act makes owning, managing, or funding of a space used for gaming punishable by imprisonment of up to five years and fine of up to ₹5,000. The penalty for opening a common gaming house has been increased from ₹500 and imprisonment of 3 months to ₹10,000 and 2 years respectively. 

This new law makes Tamil Nadu the third state in India to enforce a ban on online games and gambling.

Adding to the confusion…

In general, laws around online betting have always been slightly confusing in India. The Indian central laws defer the stance on online betting to state governments. However, a few overarching guidelines have been established by the federal government as well. 

The legal landscape around betting in India , real money online roulette remains the same: online betting is legal unless a state decides otherwise. So in most states, Indian players can still gamble legally.

A few paragraphs within the law go against the past rulings of the Supreme Court of India. Since 1968, the Supreme Court has held that rummy is a game of skill and not a game of chances. Therefore, online rummy cannot be banned. But same is not clear for other games like Real money teen patti where many sites operate.

However, the new law in Tamil Nadu bans rummy but allows games of skill. So in all likelihood, this will be challenged by the Indian Supreme Court in the near future, which may even lead to the new state law to be struck down, or at the very least updated.