AIADMK Slammed TN Govt For Failing to Enforce the Legislation Against Gambling

Author : Anurag Manoranjan

Last Updated: August 10, 2021     Published: August 10, 2021

The Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act of 2021, which restricted online games like rummy and poker with stakes, was taken down by the Madras High Court on Tuesday, in a huge victory for the online gaming sector. The former AIADMK administration passed the bill.

The Tamil Nadu government revised the Tamil Nadu Gaming Act, 1930, in February this year, prohibiting online games with stakes such as rummy and poker. The Madras High Court, on the other hand, knocked down the rule on Tuesday, stating that if followed properly, it would result in the “most ridiculous and unwanted” outcome.

The petitioners said that the Tamil Nadu Gaming and Police Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 was unconstitutional and that they were doing lawful business throughout the state.

The court stated that the AIADMK government’s formulation of the Tamil Nadu Gambling and Police Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021, applies to physical games as well, essentially outlawing them if they are played for even the smallest stakes or prize.

The State administration submitted an amendment bill in the Assembly in February to replace an ordinance prohibiting online gambling. In Tamil Nadu, playing online games like poker and rummy that include betting will result in a two-year jail sentence or a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.

According to the Bill’s Statement of Objects and Reasons, addictive internet games have grown in popularity in recent years. Innocent individuals were defrauded, and suicides were recorded. It was agreed to prohibit wagering or betting in cyberspace in order to prevent similar events and safeguard innocent people from the dangers of online gambling.

“The amended Act encompasses within its sweep all sporting activities, if played for a prize, whether between two class teams in a school or between two schools in an inter-school competition, if there is a trophy to be won; leave alone the ATP prize-money or ranking tournaments organised in the city. Goodbye to IPL and Test matches, too, from Tamil Nadu since cash rewards are offered therein,” said a bench of Justices Sanjib Banerjee and Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy.

The ruling, which came after plenty of other petitions were filed, also stated that the legislation’s “wide-ranging” blanket prohibition did not satisfy the “least intrusive test,” and so violated Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution, which guarantees an individual the right to perform any profession.If the government passes a legislation restricting a citizen’s basic rights, it must use “the least restrictive methods” to achieve its purpose, according to the least intrusive principle.

Apart from anecdotal references to certain suicides and “subjective perceptions of the evil of addiction,” the court noted that the state had failed to show any scientific justification for such a legislation.

The legislation was formed out of a “sense of morality” and a “desire to play to the galleries” in election season, according to the HC, in the absence of any empirical investigation.

“That the Bill faced no opposition in the House has more to do with the optics just ahead of the State elections,” it added.